A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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Until 1932 the parish of Marsh Baldon covered 829 acres and was almost entirely surrounded by Toot Baldon. (fn. 1) The boundary line separating the two parishes runs just north of Marsh Baldon Green and the village, and proceeds in a series of rightangled turns eastwards; the old southern boundary of Marsh Baldon ran roughly east from Knowle Plantation, north of Little Baldon Farm and then across the Roman way. The main road from Oxford to Henley formed part of the western boundary between the two parishes. (fn. 2) The southern part of Toot Baldon was added to Marsh Baldon in 1932, increasing its acreage to 1,283 acres. (fn. 3)
Much of Marsh Baldon, particularly in the southeast, is low-lying and rises little above the 200 ft. contour line. It is watered on the east by the Baldon Brook and the green is traversed by one of the brook's feeders. Another small stream, which eventually flows into the Thames, runs through the grounds of Baldon House.
The old Roman road drives straight through the eastern part of the parish, and two roads from Toot Baldon skirt the west and east sides of the green. The western one continues by the church, the Rectory and Baldon House to meet the main Oxford road. The road from Chislehampton crosses the eastern corner of the parish on its way to Clifton Hampden.
Culham railway station is about 3 miles distant and in 1954 there was a bus service to the village three times a week and hourly buses along the London road, half a mile away.
The village lies round the edges of its very large well-kept green, a rare survival in this part of Oxfordshire. Its preservation is probably due to the winter flooding of the brook, which has deterred building. (fn. 4) Willow trees and a fine elm still grow on it, though at one time there were many more trees. Even at the end of the 19th century it was said to be well stocked with timber all round and to have had a large clump of elms and eleven ashes in the middle. (fn. 5) Some idea of the number of trees on the green and in the fields in the past may be got from the 16th-century account of a large sale of timber to a Henley merchant by 31 of the Marsh Baldon farmers. The farmer of the manor himself sold 22 elms and the others lesser amounts. (fn. 6) In the 18th century it was reckoned that there were 123 oaks, 392 ashes, 1,115 elms fully grown on the manor, and 4,326 saplings, of which 3,382 were elms. (fn. 7)
The green, which with its 24 acres dominates village and parish alike, has played a most important part in their history. Rights in the green are still a live issue and as recently as 1933 were a cause of dispute. An illiterate account of the ancient customs and present discontents was then written out by an old inhabitant. He declared that in his youth only sheep and horses were grazed on the green until two of the farmers turned out 90 pigs and about 30 cows with the result that when visitors came to the village feast they found a 'so-called beauty spot' very dirty. It was alleged that the poor commoners had been deprived of their rights. (fn. 8) But in the 17th and 18th centuries there is a record of both horse and cow commons; there were 57 horse commons in 1695, (fn. 9) and a survey of the manor in 1713 shows that then the green was used for cows as well. The custom was to inclose it for hay from Lady Day to Whitsun eve and then throw it open for horses according to every tenant's yardlands. Only tenants of Marsh Baldon land had any rights except for the owners of 10 yardlands in Toot Baldon. From about Lammas cows without limit could be turned out to feed with the horses, and at St. Andrew's tide it became common for sheep. When the hay crop was growing, the green was inclosed with mounds as in 1695 when those who had horse commons had to contribute 4d. a common. (fn. 10) It is still (1954) gated.
The jealousy with which these rights were guarded can be judged from the affair of Richard Clinkard's 55 pigs in 1763. He sent them down from Toot Baldon with a keeper and they were promptly impounded. In the same year Yateman, the impropriator of the parsonage, had a bridge made on to the green so that his carts might pass over it. Mrs. Lane, lady of the manor, stopped up the trackway with pales, and when he drove his carriages through the green she ordered a trench to be dug in the green before his gates. When he put planks over, she had elm trees planted. (fn. 11)
In 1954 cattle were still grazed on the Green and football and cricket regularly played. A fun-fair occupied a corner for the week of Baldon Feast.
1. Dr. Lane's Manor House
2. Spindler's House
3. Marsh Baldon Church
4. Dr. Bacon's House
5. Mr. Yeat's House
6. Dr. Smith's House
7. Clinkard's House
8. Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence Church
The layout of the village, shaped as it is by the green, has probably altered little since medieval times. Only the size of its houses has altered. The road to the church was known as 'Church Way' or the 'Processional Way' and its upkeep was a common burden imposed on the villagers by the manorial court. 'Chapman's Way' was perhaps the road through Toot Baldon to Oxford or the way from the church to the main Oxford road. (fn. 12) One or two details about the medieval houses have survived. In the 13th century the more substantial members of the community had gardens, orchards, vineyards and dovecotes, and houses with solars. Thomas Durant (fn. 13) had such a property. In 1328 he gave his garden called the 'Heldorchard' (old orchard) to his son and with it a vineyard. The Durants' house though a superior one was not isolated. It stood in the middle of its farm buildingsthe cart house was attached to the north end of the house, and the house of Henry, Rector of Pangbourne, was close by. Their garden called 'Le Brodesbarn' was described as lying between his garden and close. (fn. 14) In the same way in 1391, a building site (placea) is described as lying between a messuage of Lord Camoys and a cottage. (fn. 15) This house of Lord Camoys, or another of his, occurs in a charter of 1419 as Thomlyns Place. (fn. 16) The fields lay as now mainly north, east and south-east of the green. (fn. 17)
By the 16th and 17th centuries it is possible to visualize more completely the look of the village. In 1558 there were at least 30 messuages and ten cottages with their gardens. (fn. 18) The block of cottages still existing north of Durham Leys Farm dates from the 16th century. Irregular in shape, with one story and an attic apiece, gabled dormers and old tiles, they represent a building tradition of a lost excellence. The farm itself, though rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries, must have been equally picturesque when Thomas Silverside was tenant in the early years of Elizabeth I or when the Pearces had it in Stuart times. (fn. 19) They were substantial yeoman farmers and subsidy payers. (fn. 20) The present post office, a two-story house with an attic, is another 16th-century house: it is timber-framed, and walled partly with brick and partly with plaster. Its roof is thatched and crowned with a massive square chimney. The bricks were of local make without doubt, though nothing is heard of the industry until the end of the 18th century when Arthur Young recorded that Sir Christopher Willoughby, lord of the manor, intended to burn brick and lime together and so reduce the price from 40s. a thousand to 28s. (fn. 21)
By the end of the 17th century the picture becomes still clearer. The hearth tax of 1665 records that there were 14 householders of sufficient wealth to pay the tax. There was the manor-house, which paid on 10 hearths; the Rectory, on which the Revd. John Huxtable paid for 3; Robert Spindler's handsome dwelling in the south-eastern corner of the green, which paid on 6 hearths; Humphrey Atherton's house and another paid on 4; there were 6 more charged on 3 hearths and 3 on 2 and under. (fn. 22) Some sixty years later a plan of the village marks 43 houses and cottages round and about the green and incidentally provides useful data for estimating the value of the hearth tax as an indication of the size of a village. Apart from Durham Leys and Spindler's, the plan shows that most of the more substantial houses were on the north side of the green, facing south. (fn. 23)
The 'Seven Stars' public house which now stands close to the church, though not named, can be located on the map. It still has some of its 17thcentury ceiling beams in the old bar, and a large stone fireplace with chimney seats of the same period was recently blocked up. (fn. 24)
Durham Leys was rebuilt in 1754 in the local stone which weathers to a silver-grey. The front of the house is of coursed rubble with large stone quoins and has a stone coved cornice. 'M.B. 1754' is inscribed over the doorway. There is a massive cutoff chimney-stack projecting from the north gableend. The rear of the house is of a much later date. In the foreground is one of the fourteen ponds which once surrounded the green. A very large one by the 'Seven Stars' was filled in about 1950. (fn. 25) The pound used to lie across the road on the corner of the green.
Marsh Baldon House, once the manor-house, stands next to the church. It is a 17th-century building with late-18th-century and more recent alterations and additions. (fn. 26) It has two stories and attics, is built of brick covered with roughcast, and has a roof of old red tiles. It has at present a long north-west front with four gables with pinnacles. Each gable has a window; the dormer windows inserted between the gables are 20th-century additions. There are seven windows on the ground floor, two of them modern, arranged on either side of a projecting porch with a gable and an arched doorway of stone. The range of offices at right angles to the west end of the main building are a later addition.
The thickness of some of the interior walls suggests that the original house was once L-shaped and had two gables only. In this case the library wing at the east end and the northern half of the west wing would be later additions, dating from the late 18th or early 19th century. About the same time the south front was also altered. The principal rooms were enlarged with three-sided bays extending into the garden; an orangery and Gothic tower, largely made of the ruins of Nuneham Courtenay church, (fn. 27) and other rooms were added.
The interior has been much modernized. On the marble fireplace in a room in the library wing there is a shield of arms, Willoughby impaling Evans. This has been dated between 1789, when Christopher Willoughby married Martha Evans, and 1794, when he was created a baronet. (fn. 28) In all probability, the main alterations to the 17th-century house were made about this date. The oak panelling in the same room is of 17th-century date and was apparently removed from the hall after the end of the 19th century.
The rectangular red-brick pigeon-house, an ancient barn of stone and brick, and two cottages of red brick and timber, dated 1609 on one side and 1729 on the other, are older than much of the main building.
The grounds are a minor example of 18thcentury landscape gardening. There can be little doubt that Sir Christopher Willoughby was the instigator of the scheme. He is reported to have ploughed up the high ridges of land, which had formerly been ploughed, in about 1780 in order to make a lawn. As a good gardener he 'repented it ever since' as it brought up the subsoil. (fn. 29) The house and grounds were considered sufficiently beautiful to be mentioned in 1830 by Thomas Moule in his English Counties Delineated. They contained at that time not only Sir Christopher's Gothic folly with its 13th-century window, brought from the medieval church of Nuneham Courtenay, but also the fine Renaissance tomb of the Pollards. (fn. 30) Brewer in his topographical description of Oxfordshire of 1819 described the house as 'placed on a gentle knowl, adorned by a pleasing succession of wood and water'. (fn. 31) There is an 18th-century lodge or gate-house, which was extended in the 19th century. It is a stone building of two stories with a thatched roof. Opposite is the Rectory, built in 1873, to replace an older house, which lay nearer to the green. (fn. 32)
Marsh Baldon has been connected with families which have played a considerable part in English history, notably the de la Mares and Windsors. In the 16th century, indeed, the place was known as Marsh Baldon Windsor. (fn. 33) Thomas Camoys, the hero of Agincourt, also had a house or houses on the green, though his main Baldon property was in Toot Baldon. (fn. 34) John Bridges, Bishop of Oxford (160418), lived at the manor-house and was buried in the church. He ranks high as an Anglican apologist against both Roman and Puritan factions. (fn. 35) In the late 18th and 19th centuries Sir Christopher Willoughby, Bt., brought the Baldons more than local fame by his advanced farming. (fn. 36)
The Saxon owner of an estate in Baldon assessed at 10 hides was Azur; his Norman successor was Geoffrey, the tenant of Miles Crispin both here and in Watcombe in Watlington, some miles to the south-east. (fn. 37) This Baldon estate, later known as MARSH BALDON and sometimes as MARSH BALDON WINDSOR, became merged with most of Miles Crispin's other lands in the honor of Wallingford, and its chief lords were therefore the various holders of the honor. (fn. 38)
It has been suggested on good grounds that Geoffrey's sons were Robert and Henry; that the latter succeeded to his father's lands in 1130; and that Geoffrey's grandson was Peter de la Mare. (fn. 39) The last at all events was holding 3 fees of the honor of Wallingford in 1166, (fn. 40) which later evidence shows were Marsh Baldon and Lower Heyford in Oxfordshire with other lands in Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire. Peter was also the lord of 2 fees at Market Lavington (Wilts.). (fn. 41)
Baldon, with which the Watcombe estate continued to be combined and for which the service of I knight was owed, descended in the male line of the de la Mare family for nine generations. Peter, the first of that name, was dead by 1173 (fn. 42) and Robert (II) de la Mare, his son presumably, succeeded. He is known to have been holding the 3 fees in 1201, (fn. 43) and to have given a virgate to Eynsham Abbey. (fn. 44) His son Peter (II) was a minor, it seems, for in the year 121112 the fees were in the custody of Warin FitzGerold, (fn. 45) but by June 1212 Peter was in possession. (fn. 46) He became one of the rebels who sided with the French against King John in 1216, was pardoned in 1217 and given seisin of Baldon and his Wiltshire manor. (fn. 47) He is heard of again in 1220 when his Heyford and Baldon manors were rated at 11 carucates for the carucage, and in 12356 when he paid 4 marks on his two Oxfordshire manors. (fn. 48) He was dead by 1254 and in 1255 his son Robert (III) was holding 10 hides in Baldon as I knight's fee of the Earl of Cornwall of the honor of Wallingford. (fn. 49) Robert died in 1272, leaving an unmarried son Peter (III) as his heir. (fn. 50) He was the holder of Baldon in 1279 (fn. 51) and an important royal officer. He died in 1291. (fn. 52) His heir Robert (IV) was a minor in the king's ward, whose marriage, said to be worth 150, was later granted along with the custody of his lands to the Dean of St. Paul's, William de Montfort. (fn. 53) In 1296 Robert came of age and obtained livery of Baldon; (fn. 54) in 1306 he was in the king's retinue on his Scottish expedition; (fn. 55) and in about 1308 he died, leaving his child Peter (IV) as heir. (fn. 56) As Baldon was a part of the dower lands of Lucy, Sir Robert's widow, she obtained livery of the manor on her husband's death and was subsequently entered as lady of the manor in the return of 131516. (fn. 57) By November 1318 her son Peter (IV) had succeeded, since in that year he obtained a grant of free warren in all his demesne lands. (fn. 58) These included not only his two Oxfordshire manors, but property in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, and Herefordshire. Soon after he forfeited his lands for his opposition to Edward II; they were restored in 1322, (fn. 59) only to be again forfeited as a result of his raid with other rebels on the lands of the local magnate and Despenser protg, John de Hadlow. He obtained a final pardon in 1324. (fn. 60) From now on he was engaged in the royal service until his death in 1349. (fn. 61) He had married Joan Achard of Aldermaston (Berks.); their son Robert (V) de la Mare succeeded to Marsh Baldon (fn. 62) and Thomas, a younger son probably, to Aldermaston, the inheritance of his mother. (fn. 63)
Robert (V) de la Mare married Maud, the daughter of Hugh de Hastings, (fn. 64) and followed his father as an important official of the Earldom and Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 65) He was knighted in 1358 and in 1365 settled the manor of Marsh Baldon on his wife for her life. (fn. 66) In July 1383 the escheator was ordered to let Maud have the issues of the manor, her husband having died the previous year. (fn. 67) She lived on until 1405, (fn. 68) when her daughter Willelma, who had been married to Sir John Roches of Bromham (Wilts.), and was already a widow in 1405 became lady of Baldon. (fn. 69) On her death in 1410 the family property in Oxfordshire was divided between her daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Sir Walter Beauchamp of Bromham, a son of Sir Beauchamp, and John Baynton. (fn. 70) John was the four-year-old son of another daughter Joan, the wife of Nicholas de Baynton of Faulstone (Wilts.). (fn. 71) The manor of Baldon was assigned to John Baynton, but the advowson of the church with Lower Heyford went to Elizabeth Beauchamp.
In 1428 Thomas Baynton was returned as holding lands in Marsh Baldon, lately Robert de la Mare's, (fn. 72) but his relationship to John has not been established. He had presumably acted for him during his minority. There is no further record of the Baynton lordship until Sir Robert Baynton forfeited his estates, including Baldon, in May 1471, after he had been attainted for high treason as the result of the Lancastrian defeat at Tewkesbury. (fn. 73) His wife Elizabeth was allowed the profits of the manor until her husband's death in 1475. (fn. 74) In June it was granted by Edward IV to John Cheyne, one of his esquires, and his heirs male. He was lord of the Buckinghamshire manor of Chesham Bois. (fn. 75) Elizabeth complained of her supersession, claiming that John Baynton had granted Baldon manor to her husband and herself in fee. A commission was appointed in May 1476 to inquire into her complaint. (fn. 76) The outcome is not known, but it seems that she was not allowed to continue in possession, for in July 1485 Richard III granted George Neville the manor for his 'services against the rebels' (fn. 77) and Henry VII presumably regranted it later to Edward Trussell, for in 1500 it was in the king's hands by reason of the minority of Anne, daughter and heir of Edward Trussell. (fn. 78) In 1503 the attainder of John Baynton, who apparently suffered with his father Robert, was reversed, (fn. 79) and in the following year he sold his restored manor of Marsh Baldon to Andrew Windsor, (fn. 80) member of an ancient family which had been lords of Stanwell (Mdx.) since the Conquest and claimed to have held Marsh Baldon in the 11th century. His wife was Elizabeth, the daughter of William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, and their son and heir, who succeeded in 1543, was William, Lord Windsor. He built the manor-house of Bradenham (Bucks.), best known for its association with Benjamin Disraeli, and lived there until his death in 1558. (fn. 81) Marsh Baldon he leased to a Cuddesdon man. (fn. 82) In February 1558 Lord Windsor granted it in tail for 500 to Sir Thomas Pope and his wife Elizabeth to pay off a debt incurred by Windsor's son. (fn. 83) The Statute staple bond was to be cancelled so long as Pope or his heirs held the manor. (fn. 84)
Sir Thomas, once 'the dear friend' of Sir Thomas More and the founder of Trinity College, Oxford, died possessed of it in 1559. (fn. 85) As he left no children, his brother John Pope of Wroxton was his heir. From him the manor descended to his son William, later to become Sir William Pope, Bt., and finally Earl of Downe in 1629. (fn. 86) His sister Susannah had married in 1583 Daniel Danvers, later known as Danvers of Horley. He was the second son of John Danvers of Culworth (Northants.), (fn. 87) where he and his wife lived until they moved to Marsh Baldon in about 1600. (fn. 88) He had bought the manor from his brother-in-law in 1594 for 1,000. (fn. 89) In 1613 he settled it on his eldest son John (fn. 90) and his wife Ann, the daughter of a Berkshire gentleman, Anthony Sadler of Inkpen, and their male heirs. The new squire died young in 1616only 30 years old. (fn. 91) His widow Ann lived on in her Baldon home, and took a second husband, Richard Goddard of Upham (Wilts.), (fn. 92) member of a family with which the Pollards were already allied. The only child of his wife's first marriage, Susan, was married in 1635 to John Pollard, grandson of John Pollard, a former lord of Little Baldon manor and of the neighbouring manor of Nuneham Courtenay, (fn. 93) and the son of Lewis Pollard of Little Baldon. (fn. 94) In the same year the Goddards embarked on various legal transactions which ended in the conveyance of the manor to John and Susan Pollard in the latter's right. (fn. 95) By 1648 the Pollards' son John, although only about twelve years old, had been betrothed to Elizabeth Jennens, and in September a marriage settlement was being arranged by which the two brothers of Elizabeth were to hold a part of the manor to the use of John Pollard for his life and to the use of Elizabeth after his death as her jointure. (fn. 96)
John Pollard's already comfortable circumstances were improved in 1660 when he received a legacy from one of his wife's relatives, William Danvers, a silk merchant of London. (fn. 97) In the 1665 hearth tax assessments, ten hearths were returned for his house, whereas most of his chargeable neighbours returned three or under. (fn. 98) He died in 1670, and his son John and his wife Elizabeth succeeded to the property. (fn. 99) John Pollard the younger is often mentioned in the Queen's College deeds as their tenant of a property called Brasiers. (fn. 100) In about 1708 he and his wife entered into legal negotiations about Baldon manor which terminated in its sale in 1713 to their daughter Elizabeth's husband, Dr. Lane, (fn. 101) a Bristol dealer in copper and lead. (fn. 102) By the date of these transactions the Pollards were in their late seventies. By 1712 they must have died for Elizabeth Pollard, not yet married, was then lady of the manor. (fn. 103)
Dr. Lane's bankruptcy in 1726 led to the conveyance of the manor to a relative, William Jennens of Long Wittenham (Berks.), for 100 guineas down and 1, 365. In 1727 it was conveyed to Peter Jennens and another to hold in trust for Mrs. Lane, who in 1729 limited her estate in the manor to the lives of her husband and herself. (fn. 104) For 60 years Elizabeth Lane was lady of the manor. Her husband died in 1740, but she herself lived until 1771. Her friendship with Sir Christopher Willoughby is recorded on a memorial tablet in the church, her work for the parish is commemorated by the school house and its endowment. (fn. 105)
In 1754 the Willoughby connexion with the estate began, when Mrs. Lane leased it for a year to Christopher Willoughby of Berwick Lodge, Gloucester. The two families had had long-standing trade associations: Christopher Willoughby, the grandson of John Willoughby, Mayor of Bristol in 1665, and John Lane had both been Bristol merchants. (fn. 106) Willoughby, who appears to have bought the manor, perhaps after Mrs. Lane's death, died in 1773 and was succeeded by his son Christopher, (fn. 107) the agriculturalist, (fn. 108) who made Baldon House his home. The latter's services to agriculture were rewarded in 1788 by a D.C.L. from the University of Oxford and by a baronetcy in 1794. He died in 1808 and was followed, as lord of the manor, by William Tatnall of Leiston (Suff.), who acted as trustee for Sir Christopher Willoughby's schoolboy son. Eventually, Sir Christopher's younger son, Sir Henry Pollard Willoughby, M.P., succeeded in 1813 to the baronetcy and the Baldon property, as his elder brother had died while an undergraduate of Corpus Christi College. (fn. 109) Sir Henry lived at Baldon until about 1848 when he leased the house and estate to Guy Thomson, the Oxford banker. (fn. 110) After distinguishing himself in the public service, particularly in simplifying the national accounts, he died in 1865. (fn. 111) He was followed as lord of Baldon by his brother and heir Sir John Pollard Willoughby, who died in 1866 leaving as his heir his son Sir John Christopher Willoughby. Marsh Baldon formed a small part of the family's large estate of 2,282 acres, lying in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey, and Buckinghamshire. It was valued at 3,926 a year. (fn. 112) The trustees of Sir John C. Willoughby sold the estate to the Queen's College in 1921. (fn. 113)
Domesday Book records that a certain Bristeva held 2 hides of the Bishop of Lincoln in Baldon. (fn. 114) She is the lady who held 20 hides at rent of the manor of Dorchester. (fn. 115) From the later report in the Hundred Rolls of 1279 it seems that her Baldon estate lay in Marsh Baldon. (fn. 116) In the 12th century it was apparently in the hands of the Clifton family of Clifton Hampden, a couple of miles away. In 1166 Adelinus de Clifton was holding 2 fees of the bishop in Clifton and Baldon.; (fn. 117) in 1212 Richard de Clifton held them. (fn. 118) and in 1219 Agnes, daughter of Richard. (fn. 119) In the inquest of 1255, however, the jurors simply stated that the bishop held 2 hides of the barony [sic] of Dorchester, and in 1279 they said that it belonged to the manor of Dorchester and the barony of Banbury. The land was then held by six villeins, who owed suit at the court of Dorchester and no mesne tenant is recorded. (fn. 120)
It has not been possible to trace with any certainty the later descent of this fee, but it is probable that it was purchased in 1513 by Edmund Audley, Bishop of Salisbury, and later passed to the Pollards. (fn. 121)
Economic and Social History. (fn. 122)
The area later covered by the two parishes of Toot and Marsh Baldon probably had some settlers in the Roman period: Romano-British pottery and coins have been found, (fn. 123) while the existence of the Roman road, a good water-supply, and the natural fertility of the soil might be expected to encourage early settlement. The same reasons, no doubt, led to colonization by the Anglo-Saxons, who gave Baldon its name, 'Bealda's hill'. The first element of the name Marsh Baldon indicates the nature of the low-lying land. Toot means 'look-out hill'. (fn. 124)
In the Domesday account of the Baldons all the entries relate to 'Baldedone', and the later villages of Toot Baldon, Marsh Baldon, Baldon St. Lawrence, and Little Baldon are not differentiated. But there were already seven different estates and there can be little doubt that the four villages which are distinguished by name in 13th-century documents were already in existence.
The fact that the four Baldons shared a common field system suggests that three of the hamlets were later colonies, settled by men and women from the original village. The ecclesiastical history of the two later parishes strongly indicates that Toot Baldon was the first to have a church. The etymology of the name of Baldon and the common tendency for settlers to choose high ground add force to the argument that Toot and then Baldon St. Lawrence were the first villages to be settled, perhaps in the 5th and 6th centuries. The descent of the Domesday estates (fn. 125) shows that Miles Crispin's 10 villeins and 6 bordars were at Marsh Baldon; (fn. 126) that the Bishop of Lincoln's 3 serfs and 10 villeins were probably divided between Little Baldon and Marsh Baldon; (fn. 127) that the Count of vreux's 3 serfs, 5 villeins, and 1 bordar were at Baldon St. Lawrence, (fn. 128) and that the 2 serfs, 7 villeins, and 2 bordars of Swegn the sheriff were at Toot Baldon. (fn. 129) Domesday gives no cultivators for the 3 hides held by Robert d'Oilly and Roger d'Ivry, (fn. 130) but later evidence shows that their fees were in Baldon St. Lawrence.
The above map is based on one of the Queen's College property made in 1830 by Richard Collisson. The letters C and W denote consolidated arable holdings owned respectively by the college and Sir Henry Willoughby. Middle Field, the new fourth field, is shown.
The Hundred Rolls and the 14th-century tax assessments throw a little more light on the distribution and wealth of the community in the early Middle Ages. In 1279, at Marsh Baldon, besides the household of the lord, there were 41 tenants, over two and a half times as many as those listed in 1087. Eight villein tenants of the Bishop of Lincoln's manor also lived there. At Little Baldon or Baldon Willelmias it was called, William de Baldindon had eleven tenants. At Baldon St. Lawrence there was Robert de Louches's household and though the Hundred Rolls omit all reference to tenants, the descendants of the Count of Evreux's cultivators must surely have been there. Similarly no villein tenants are assigned to Walter son of Roger or John de Scaccario who held 4 hides of land at Toot Baldon of the Despensers. (fn. 131) The returns for the 30th of 1306 (fn. 132) are incomplete, but they record the contributions of Little and Marsh Baldon. There were 13 taxpayers at one and 27 at the other, paying in all 13s. 1d. and 38s. 5d. respectively. Though there was doubtless much evasion, the figures may perhaps be taken to give a rough estimate of the comparative wealth of the villages. The returns for the 16th of 1316 (fn. 133) and the 20th of 1327 (fn. 134) are the first to include all four hamlets: there were at each date respectively 18 and 22 contributors at Marsh Baldon, 18 and 12 at Toot Baldon, 13 and 11 at Little Baldon, and 9 and 11 at Baldon St. Lawrence. At Marsh Baldon, as might be expected from its larger population, wealth was less evenly distributed.
From Domesday and the Hundred Rolls some idea may also be gained of the progress made in the cultivation of the land in the early Middle Ages. In 1086 on the Bishop of Lincoln's estate in the southern half of the Baldons, i.e. at Little and Marsh Baldon, there was land for seven ploughs, but only six were at work. Nevertheless, the estate's value, as on so many Church properties, had risen steeply from 4 in the Confessor's time to 7 in 1086. (fn. 135) The other estate based on Marsh Baldon had not made the same economic progress: its value was still 5 as it had been before the Conquest. It had 2 ploughs in use on the demesne and 5 ploughs on the peasants' land. There was said to be land for 5 ploughs and the excess of plough-teams over plough-lands is perhaps to be accounted for by the heavy water-logged land in that part of the Baldons. (fn. 136) In the northern half of the Baldons, where the best land lies, there was Swegn's estate of 5 ploughlands with only 2 ploughs at work on itone on the peasants' land and one on the demesne. No development of the land, it seems, had taken place in the twenty years since the Conquest: its pre-Conquest value of 60s. remained unchanged. The meaning of the entry presents a problem, but perhaps the most reasonable explanation is that 5 plough-lands had once been cultivated and had already reverted to rough pasture by the Confessor's day. (fn. 137) There was also the Count of Evreux's estate of 3 plough-lands based on Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 138) This too, with its single plough-team on the demesne and two on the villeins' land, had not made any advance. It was worth 30s. as before. Thus, it appears that in the 11th century 20 plough-lands had been cultivated, or some 2,000 field acres. This calculation assumes that the Domesday virgate was equal to 22 acres, which was the average size in the 16th century and later. (fn. 139)
Of woods or mills there is no mention and only 1 acre of meadow in the whole of the Baldons is recorded. (fn. 140)
The Domesday assessment had been on 30 hides and the Hundred Rolls account shows that there were in fact almost 30 hides or 120 virgates in the Baldons which had been occupied by 1279. It gives a picture of the land of the two parishes split up between three or four manors and a number of fees with their free tenants and villein cultivators. The tenurial pattern had become more than ordinarily complex.
At Little Baldon, William de Baldindon, the Bishop of Lincoln's tenant, held 9 virgates in demesne, while his villeins held 4 and his free tenants 6 virgates. Thus 19 virgates of the 5-hide Domesday estate are accounted for. The remaining 2 hides of the Bishop of Lincoln's Domesday estate were attached to Dorchester manor and had no demesne land. Six villeins held 6 virgates for 39s. and suit at Dorchester hundred. Two held 4 virgates for 26s. and similar suit. At Marsh Baldon, Peter de la Mare held 9 virgates in demesne; 16 villeins held 15 virgates, and there were 9 cottars holding at the lord's will. Ten of his free tenants held 14 virgates and another 6 held messuages and curtilages only. The addition of these virgates comes to 39, half a virgate short of the Domesday assessment of 10 hides. It may be noted that Robert Wymond, though listed among the free tenants, owed rent to Eynsham Abbey for his virgate. Later holders were regarded as customary tenants of the Eynsham manor of Wood Eaton to which they owed suit of court. (fn. 141) Most of the de la Mare free tenants owed scutage, monthly suit of court and rent if they held land. Those only holding curtilages mostly owed rent and suit of court only.
At Baldon St. Lawrence, George de Louches held 4 virgates of the Noyon manor in demesne and his villeins 8. His two free tenants were Robert de Louches and the Prioress of Littlemore. Each held a virgate of land, the one paying 5s. towards the 60s. farm owed to Noyon Priory by George de Louches, the other paying 1s. for all services. Thus the Domesday estate of the Count of vreux, assessed at 3 hides, was evidently also 3 hides or 14 virgates in area.
Similarly the 6 hides of Swegn the sheriff were represented in 1279 by the 24 virgates of the Despenser fee, which was divided equally between William de Scroop, John de Scaccario and Walter son of Roger. Robert de Louches was holding 7 of Scroop's 8 virgates and 7 of John de Scaccario's. Of these 14 virgates, 7 were held of Robert in villeinage. Walter son of Roger seems to have held the whole of his 8 virgates in demesne except for a half-virgate which John de Scaccario held of him. Finally, the 3 hides of d'Oilly and d'Ivry were represented by Robert de Louches's 12 virgates, 6 held of the honor of St. Valery and 6 of John de Mortain. (fn. 142)
Before the introduction of the statute acre of 160 poles, the small acre of 107 poles was in use at the Baldons. (fn. 143) Therefore, it appears that in 1279 over 280,000 poles out of a total area of approximately 411,000, the extent of the modern parishes, were under cultivation. As the virgate in the 16th century varied in size between 20 and 24 acres, this very rough calculation has again been based on a virgate of 22 acres. (fn. 144)
Extents of Marsh Baldon manor for 1292 and 1308 add few details about the manorial organization. In 1292 the demesne is said to consist of 140 acres of arable land priced at the low rate of 3d. an acre, of 5 acres of meadow priced at 3s. an acre, and of an unspecified amount of pasture, almost certainly inclosed, valued at 5s. The villeins are here said to hold 16 virgatesthe number required to bring the land up to the full 10 hides of its Domesday assessment and not 15 as stated in the Hundred Rolls. The extent of 1308 records a reduction of 20 acres in the arable of the demesne and values the pasture at 6s. (fn. 145)
Medieval charters help to fill out the picture of the community so far described. They show the free tenants making grants of land, (fn. 146) dowering their daughters, (fn. 147) building up and dispersing their properties. (fn. 148) The Marmions, for instance, the most important of the free tenants in 1279, (fn. 149) conveyed their 5 virgates in Marsh Baldon to the lord in 1308, (fn. 150) though the family continued to hold land in the neighbourhood and were still important Baldon tenants in the 16th century. Another free tenant, John Durant, who in 1279 held 4 virgates for a rent of 2s. a year, a pound of cinnamon, scutage when it fell, and monthly suit of court, (fn. 151) was adding to his patrimony at about this time. One charter shows him getting 4 acres, another meadow land from Peter, his lord, (fn. 152) another land in Chippinghurst from the Abbot of Dorchester. (fn. 153) Early in the 14th century, his son Thomas Durant took the opportunity of a change of tenants to acquire more property. In about 1314 William Benham became a free tenant of the manor, somewhat irregularly, as he obtained a pardon some years later for acquiring land in tail without licence, i.e. a messuage and virgate in Marsh Baldon from another free tenant. (fn. 154) In 1314, Durant obtained a grant from Benham of a stretch of land running the whole length of the wall of his tenement and of the building annexed to it with free entrance and exit. (fn. 155) Later, in 1328, Thomas Durant and his wife granted to their son John an outbuilding called the Wheatbarn, which extended from the solar of their house (tenementum) up to its west end. They also granted land called the Barton next to the house and nearly 15 acres in the fields of Baldon, (fn. 156) other land in the village, and half the profits of their dovecote. (fn. 157) As late as 1419 their house and garden were still known as Durands. (fn. 158)
There is little evidence for the general history of the Baldons in the 14th and 15th centuries. The poll tax of 1377 gives some idea of the relative size of the four hamlets at that date. At Baldon St. Lawrence, the smallest of all the hamlets, there were 10 taxpayers over fourteen, at Toot Baldon 22, at Little Baldon 25. Marsh Baldon, by far the largest of the hamlets, had 67. (fn. 159)
There are slight indications in the second half of the 15th century that the parish shared in the general economic decline of the period. A court roll for 14589 shows decreasing rents and suggests a falling population and poverty. (fn. 160) The court rolls of Eynsham Abbey similarly show a reduction in rents. (fn. 161) It may be that the decline of Little Baldon began in this period and was only completed by the inclosures of the early 17th century. (fn. 162)
Scattered evidence for the layout of the medieval field system shows that all the hamlets shared a common set of fields. In the 13th century the Baldons had three fields, East Field, West or North Field, and South Field. (fn. 163) Other fields are mentioned in the charters'le heth field', 'le wyndmyllfeld', 'eldefeld' in the North Fieldbut these seem to have been groups of furlongs. (fn. 164) There is no evidence for anything but a three-field rotation until the 18th century.
In 1514 the three original fields were still in existence, but the ancient pattern was complicated by Little Baldon Field or 'Lytyll Feld' as it is called in some terriers. (fn. 165) The land of the big tenant farmers is now commonly described in their terriers under four headingsthose of the three ancient fields and Little Baldon Fieldin which their holdings as far as is known were always closes. (fn. 166) The names of the three fields, moreover, changed in the course of the century: in 1627 they were Appledore Field for South Field, Catsbrayn Field for East Field, and Hill Field for North Field. (fn. 167) Little Field, now completely inclosed, (fn. 168) continues to be a regular fourth heading in the terriers.
The equal division of strips between the three fields, if it had ever existed, had by now broken down. In 1529 the demesne land, for example, of the farmer of the manors of Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence, was divided in the following proportions: 15 acres in North Field, 23 acres in East Field, 5 acres in South Field. He also had 17 acres in Little Field, and indication perhaps that the closes there had once been part of South Field. (fn. 169) In another instance, William Long in 1627 had approximately 21, 12, and 36 acres in the three fields, (fn. 170) and William Knap had roughly 30, 40, and 9 acres.
In all three cases the smallest acreage lay in Appledore Field, which lay farthest from the homes of these tenants of the manor of Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence and had moreover the poorest soil. (fn. 171)
Even by 1627 there had been remarkably little consolidation of strips in the open fields. Meadow land, or some of it, was still assigned by lot. Broadmedows, for example, was so assigned in the 17th century. (fn. 172) Half an acre of meadow seems to have been normally included in the virgate. (fn. 173)
Some details about the regulation of the common pastures have survived. Among the orders made by the 16th-century courts held at Marsh Baldon for Sir Andrew Windsor and at Baldon St. Lawrence for the Queen's College was one which laid down that no one was to receive beasts from outsiders to be pastured within the manor. (fn. 174) The usual tendency to overstock the common was further guarded against by fixing the numbers of animals which might be pastured: in 1527 a man might pasture 30 sheep and three other beasts for every virgate. (fn. 175) Those who infringed the rule were presented and fined. (fn. 176) The use of the green at Marsh Baldon was also restricted and sheep were not allowed on it at certain periods of the year. (fn. 177) The same rule applied to pigs, which, of course, had to be ringed. The large numbers of sheep kept is incidentally revealed by the order that the farmer of Baldon St. Lawrence demesne was to have common with the tenants throughout the year up to a hundred sheep. (fn. 178) Horses were also kept on the green: a list of 'horse commons' of 1694 includes 30 names: headed by John Pollard, lord of Marsh Baldon manor, who had the right to seven commons. (fn. 179) As elsewhere care had to be taken of the growing crops: straying animals must be guarded against and no one must allow his hens to be at large and eat the grain at the time of sowing. (fn. 180) The scouring and digging of ditches was naturally a major concern. Finally, we get a glimpse of the ordering of relations between the manors. An order of the court baron of Marsh Baldon Windsor held in October 1555 laid down that the farmer and all tenants of the manor should plough their lands at the Knowle, between the demesne of Marsh Baldon and Nuneham, and sow them when other lands in that field were sown and as the tenants of the Queen's College wished. (fn. 181)
The courts also dealt with all those other aspects of village life with which manorial courts usually concerned themselves. The repair of tenements looms large. The lord supplied the timber, but the tenant had to keep both the roof and walls in good order. A notable case of failure to do this occurred in 1514, when a former farmer of the manor was presented for allowing two houses to fall to the ground and for selling outside the manor various iron bars from the windows and doors as well as a lead vessel. (fn. 182) Entirely new building was occasionally enjoined, as when a tenant of Baldon St. Lawrence was ordered to build within seven years a cow-house and a sheep-house at his own expense, apart from the timber. (fn. 183) Among other customs of the manors were the following: tenants must obtain a licence to take down a house or move it; widows might keep their husband's tenement during their widowhood; sub-leasing of copyhold land without licence was contrary to custom; all tenants were responsible for making and mending the church way. (fn. 184) Neifs were being presented and fined for living outside the manor without licence as late as the 16th century. (fn. 185)
The records of these courts and the college leases provide ample material for the study of changes in tenure. The growth of leasehold, for instance, may be illustrated from the court rolls of 15756, when the college had 2 free tenants, 10 at term of years, and 7 copyholders. (fn. 186) Leases for 3 lives were common practice in the 17th century, but leases for 2 were not uncommon. Heriots continued to be exacted, as in a lease of 1636 of a tenement and 150 acres for 3 lives where a heriot of 40s. at each decease was required. (fn. 187) A common clause in the leases stated that the rent would be doubled if the property was alienated to another, wives and children excepted, without licence. (fn. 188) The college very commonly required part of the rent to be paid in kind or in services: one tenant had to bring to the provost's stable a good cart-load of rye or wheat straw; another must have two of the provost's geldings running for 26 weeks in the year; another must nourish young bees. (fn. 189) A typical lease was one for the year 1649 leasing 72 acres for a rent of 13s. 4d., 5 bushels of wheat, 4 of malt, half a load of straw to the college stables, and a heriot of 20s. (fn. 190)
By the early 16th century, terriers show that there were already many large closes. In 1506 John Allam had a close of 24 acres (fn. 191) and a terrier of 1514 makes it clear that there were many closes in Little Baldon Field. (fn. 192) A few years later a man was accused of making a new 16-acre inclosure, hedging it, and using it for pasture, thus rendering four people homeless. (fn. 193) Much of Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence was inclosed in or before the early 16th century. There is mention of Baldington Close in 1511 (fn. 194) and of the Great Close called Court Leys by 1529. It was then leased for pasture at a rent of 8 a year. (fn. 195) If it had been a very recent inclosure, one would have expected some reference to it in view of the amount of evidence available for the early years of the century.
A big step forward was taken in 1612 when Lewis Pollard completed the inclosure of Little Baldon Field, probably consisting then as later of 20 yardlands. (fn. 196) Pollard's plans were opposed by Daniel Danvers, the lord of Marsh Baldon, who broke down the inclosures in 1613, but died two years later without succeeding in preventing the permanent inclosure of Little Baldon. (fn. 197) In 1627 the terrier of William Long's land shows that all his acres in Little Field were inclosedfour closes of 30 acres, of which one was said to be newly inclosed. (fn. 198) About the same time William Knap's terrier records that he held a 10-acre close divided into four parts, a new close of 2 acres, a 3-acre and a 5-acre close.
In about 1635 Humphrey Atherton is said to have inclosed more landHanging Lands and the holding called Braziers. The latter was 'placed in Monkhill' and was set out by meer stones by a Chancery order. (fn. 199)
Thus, by the mid-17th century a large part of Baldon Field had clearly been inclosed. In fact, it may be stated with some certainty that apart from some small inclosures of waste and common land, made by Sir Christopher Willoughby in the late 18th century, (fn. 200) no further large-scale inclosure was made until the 19th century, and that the figures for inclosed land given in the survey of 1830 more or less represent the position in the 17th century. At Marsh and Toot Baldon the college had 73 and 235 acres respectively. The Willoughbys had a total of approximately 596 acres, including 310 at Little Baldon. Altogether inclosures totalled over 900 acres. (fn. 201)
At Little Baldon the inclosed land was used mainly as pasture, with depopulation as a consequence. The poll tax of 1377 had shown Little Baldon to be the largest of the four hamlets after Marsh Baldon, but the village ceased to be listed separately in the 16th-century subsidy lists, where it is treated as dependent on Toot Baldon. (fn. 202) At the courts leet of the hundred in 1652, Little Baldon paid a fine of 4s. 4d. and Toot Baldon 11s. 3d., which suggests a decline in population. (fn. 203) Michael Burghers marks the village on his map of 1677, although he gives no indication of its size, (fn. 204) but Richard Davis's map of 1797 shows that there was then little more than one farm-house there. (fn. 205)
There were three unsuccessful attempts at inclosure between 1677 and about 1740. One attempt is said to have been defeated by Provost Halton (16771704); (fn. 206) another made in 1724, though supported by the college met with strong local opposition; (fn. 207) and a third initiated by the rector Dr. Bacon, supported by the lady of the manor, was again defeated through the efforts of Queen's. (fn. 208)
In 1730 Mrs. Elizabeth Lane, the lady of the manor, and others, including the rector and several yeoman farmers, drew up a scheme to make four fields for the good, as they said, 'of our tenants and the improving of our estates'. By the new regulations landowners and tenants, instead of leaving the 'Bean Stub Field' fallow as was customary, were to sow barley after the beans, while the New Field was to lie fallow in the first year. The position of this new field is made clear: it was taken out of Appledore and Catsbrayn fields and was bounded on one side by Toot Baldon Lane. It was to be 'sufficiently mounded' at the end of every man's lands by the respective owners; the other mounds were to be made at the expense of both Baldon parishes. (fn. 209) From the many references to a fallow third field in Dr. Bacon's correspondence it seems that this plan did not materialize at once. (fn. 210) However, it must have been carried out in the course of the century, for by 1797 it is clear that there were four main fields Ham Field, Middle Field (i.e. New Field), Appledore Field, and Hill Field. (fn. 211) The three fields are said to have measured 465 field acres or approximately 323 statute acres. They were slightly unequal in size, Appledore measuring 164 field acres, Hill Field 130, and Catsbrayn 171. (fn. 212)
Arthur Young's account of the Baldons is unusually full. He reports that whereas arable in the open fields of Baldon was worth 7s. 6d. an acre in the 1780's it was worth 16s. in about 1800 and later. Rents had been raised, but not nearly doubled. The number of livestock kept was said to have increased tenfold during the war, though cottagers had given up the cows they used to keep on their 3 or 4 acres and used the land for arable at greater profit to themselves. (fn. 213) Their condition certainly needed bettering. For most of the century their wages had been very low. From harvest to Michaelmas they had been paid 1s. a day and thereafter until Lady Day 9d. or 10d. From Lady Day on they received 12d. a day for common work, 15d. for mowing grass and 18d. for harvest work. (fn. 214) Their rents on the other hand were very low too and Sir Christopher Willoughby's cottagers had not had them raised for nearly a century. (fn. 215)
Willoughby's example could not have failed to promote better farming generally. He kept a considerable part of his land in his own hands, aiming at raising everything that the climate permitted which a family of 30 might need to consume. He killed 80 sheep a year, ate his own beef, and kept 19 cows for butter, milk, cream and cheese. The large dove-house, which may still be seen in the grounds of Baldon House, testifies to the report that he had an ample supply of pigeons. His fish ponds, also still there and fed by a small stream, afforded him carp, tench, and perch whenever wanted. In addition he had great abundance of poultry and game. He grew his own wheat, oats, hay, and hops, providing poles for the hops from his estate. After the harvest he made his own malt. All this he did from a farm of less than 400 acres and had a considerable surplus of goods for sale. (fn. 216) But what made him outstanding was that he was an innovator and an experimentalist; he tried coal ashes, for instance, as a fertilizer. Encouraged by the opening of the Oxford Canal, he tried both Newcastle and Wednesbury coal ashes as an alternative to wood ash; (fn. 217) he also used rags sent by barge from London, paying up to 40 a year; (fn. 218) he made good use of pigeon dung, spreading it as a top-dressing for barley with excellent results: he folded sheep on his newly sown wheat. (fn. 219)
Another of Willoughby's experiments was connected with drilling wheat with Cook's machine, which he had altered to deliver more seed. (fn. 220) Another of his great services to the neighbourhood was to encourage the cultivation of swedes. He saved the seed of his plants for his neighbours with the result that considerable tracts of them were grown. They were said to be twice as nourishing as turnips. Furthermore, he experimented with the rotation of crops and introduced a new course. Formerly it had been customary to leave a third of the open fields fallow, then to sow wheat followed by beans, followed by barley or oats. An alternative course was wheat followed by barley or oats. But as the result of Willoughby's influence the open-field course in about 1800 was turnips, barley, clover, wheat, and beans. (fn. 221) The course adopted by Willoughby on his inclosed land was far more elaborate, namely, (i) turnips, (ii) barley, (iii) clover mown twice for hay, (iv) wheat, (v) beans, (vi) barley or oats, (vii) clover, (viii) wheat, (ix) vetches and, after being fed off, turnips, (x) barley, or oats. (fn. 222) Sainfoin had been tried as early as 1714 and had proved a failure. (fn. 223)
Arthur Young noted with approval that Willoughby saved a ploughing by using heavy drag harrows though his conservative neighbours followed the old method of spring-ploughing before putting in any spring corn crops. Indeed, according to Young, except on Willoughby's farm there was no farming operation known by the general run of Baldon farmers except the common ones everywhere practised. (fn. 224) Sir Christopher's advanced ideas are again shown by his anticipation of large-scale corn growing. He believed that for corn open fields were superior to inclosures, provided that the strips were consolidated and that they were all under one ownership. (fn. 225) Notable among his many other experiments was the sowing of peas instead of beans on the lighter soils, though not too often as it exhausted the soil too much; and the introduction of the turnip crops for sheep fodder. (fn. 226)
A dispute arising in 1797 between the Queen's College and Sir Christopher Willoughby over the boundaries between their manors and their respective common rights reveals once again the energy and spirit of experiment which was characteristic of Willoughby's farming. As the college's tenant of Daglands Sir Christopher had inclosed plantations of trees, dug trenches for drainage, and had dug sand on Baldon Heath. (fn. 227) He had also inclosed land called the Knowle lying on the west side of the main Oxford to London road. The college claimed that both these areas were common land of their manor of Toot Baldon. An award made by a magistrate laid down that the heath was in the manor of Marsh Baldon; recognized that by the inclosure of part of the heath the pasturage of the rest had been greatly improved through drainage; and permitted Willoughby to go on enjoying the inclosed lands and discharged them from any right of common by the college. The Knowle on the other hand was declared to be part of Toot Baldon manor and Sir Christopher was forbidden to inclose any more of the waste in future. (fn. 228) Here, clearly, Willoughby's zeal had led him into trouble. He was ordered to restore all Hanging Lands, Knowle Piece, and Woodside Close, which he had planted, and the meadow ground in the Lot Mead, the Furze Leys, and other appurtenances of Daglands farm on the Heath. Compensation was also required of him. Thus he had to pay more than 117 for the planting of trees and for inclosing, and over 58 for the repair of the premises of Daglands farm, for the manure and wood carried off and for 'the cross-cropping and holding over' of Sands Field, which was evidently contrary to custom. (fn. 229)
After the end of the Napoleonic War, the question of general inclosure was again raised. In 1821 Sir Henry Willoughby pressed Queen's to agree to it on the ground that it was no longer possible to get tenants 'of skill and capital' to take land which they were obliged to cultivate in a 'barbarous mode'. (fn. 230) There the matter rested until 1830 when Richard Collisson made a survey for the college at a cost of 127. (fn. 231) Six years later an Act was obtained and an award was made in 1837. (fn. 232)
The survey for the award showed that the college had over 308 acres of inclosed land in the Baldons and nearly 668 acres of uninclosed; Sir Henry Willoughby had nearly 596 acres of inclosed and over 426 acres of uninclosed land; the rector's glebe of over 34 acres and Earl Harcourt's 82 acres were uninclosed. The total of uninclosed land amounted to 1,188 acres. (fn. 233) By the award out of a total of 804a. 3r. 15p. in Marsh Baldon, the lord of the manor was assigned 659a. 1r. 33p.; and approximately 25 acres for glebe and 62 for tithes. The college got 14a. 3r. 25p. In Toot Baldon it was assigned 889a. 3r. 10p.; Sir Henry Willoughby got over 292 acres for tithes and 2 acres for glebe, and over 339 acres for his other rights; the trustees of Earl Harcourt got over 91 acres. A few acres went to cottagers and the rector. (fn. 234)
The almost total disappearance of the small landowner by this date is interesting. A large proportion of the land in the two parishes had always been held by the various lords of the manors, but in 1786 there were still 17 proprietors in Marsh Baldon and 19 in Toot Baldon in 1785. (fn. 235) When the land tax was redeemed in 1790, the assessments show that the college property consisted of small farms and smallholdings. With the exception of Manor Farm, assessed at 9 12s., in Toot Baldon, and Durham Leys in Marsh Baldon, assessed at 6, the farms were assessed at about 5 or under. (fn. 236) In 1786 Sir Christopher Willoughby had held in person a large estate assessed at over 27, while the rest of his property was divided between four tenant farmers and a few small-holders. The only other farm of any size in the parish was Parsonage farm, assessed at 6. There were 35 different properties listed in 1786, but many were then farmed by the same man. (fn. 237) In 1834 there were thirteen farms; in 1954 there were three farms in Marsh Baldon and three in Toot Baldon. (fn. 238) Dairy-farming predominates as it seems to have done in the mid-19th century, when Toot Baldon had two 'butter factors' amongst its inhabitants. (fn. 239)
The Baldons being fair-sized villages were more self-supporting than some. They may, for instance, have generally had a tailor as they did at the end of the 16th century (fn. 240) and in the 18th century. (fn. 241) Toot and Marsh Baldon had butchers in the 17th and 18th centuries, and Marsh Baldon a slaughterhouse. (fn. 242) A currier, a maltster, a sawyer, and carpenter occur, but more unusual was the bone-setter, commemorated by Rawlinson for his 'universal industry and charitable readiness in restoring broken limbs'. (fn. 243) In the last half of the 19th century there were a blacksmith, grocer, baker, butcher, wheelwright, and beer-retailer as well as the publicans of the two inns. (fn. 244) Today (1954) only the publicans remain. In addition there is a combined general shop and sub-post office at Marsh Baldon and at Toot Baldon there are a couple of agricultural and automobile engineers. Most of the villagers find employment in industry, business, and domestic service in Oxford.
Population in the Baldons, that is to say at Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence in Toot Baldon parish, and in Marsh Baldon, rose steadily in the first half of the 19th century. Apart from improvements in sanitation and the advance of medical knowledge, the increase may have been due to some relaxation in the strict control of house-building which had been exercised by the manorial courts. In 1721, for instance, it had required the written consent of the leading inhabitants of Toot Baldon and the permission of the provost for a parishioner to be allowed to build a house on the waste at his own charge. (fn. 245) By the end of the century certainly, as Arthur Young noted, it was not lack of corn but lack of houses which was the main check to marriages. (fn. 246) The population peak was reached at Marsh Baldon in 1841 with 300 inhabitants compared with 208 in 1801, at Toot Baldon in 1851 with 290 compared with 223 inhabitants in 1801. By 1901 numbers had declined in both parishes to 280 and 228 respectively. In 1951 they were 328 and 168. (fn. 247)
The early history of the church is obscure, but there can be little doubt that a chapel of St. Peter at Marsh Baldon was originally served by the secular priests of the Saxon church at Dorchester. (fn. 248)
Only one chapel in Baldon is mentioned in the papal bull of 1146 and this seems to be the chapel of St. Lawrence in Toot Baldon. (fn. 249) If that is so then St. Peter must have been omitted for one of two reasons, either because it had been temporarily loss to the Abbey in the confusion of the Conquest of because it had not yet been built. It was certainly in existence by 1163 when it was referred to as the 'chapel on the fee of Peter de la Mare'. (fn. 250) Perhaps the fact that this chapel was confirmed to the Abbey 'with all its tithes and appurtenances in Baldon', whereas the chapel of St. Lawrence is mentioned second and no reference is made to its tithes, may be taken as an indication that the possession of St. Peter's chapel had been in dispute and that it was in fact a pre-Conquest chapel. The survival of a sundial of Anglo-Saxon character is corroborative but not conclusive evidence. (fn. 251) It was claimed in 1770 that the chapel of St. Peter was dependent on the mother church of St. Lawrence; (fn. 252) this may have been so in the beginning, but there is no evidence for the statement beyond the common feast-day of St. Lawrence. (fn. 253) Indeed, in the early 13th century Dorchester is called the mother church, (fn. 254) and for most of the Middle Ages the chapel of St. Peter was clearly an independent rectory.
Although the church was never appropriated there is evidence that it was in many ways subject to the jurisdiction of Dorchester throughout the Middle Ages. When the abbey surrendered the patronage to the lord of Marsh Baldon, (fn. 255) it reserved to itself the annual payment of 1 lb. of incense (fn. 256) in recognition of its ancient authority, and continued to exercise archidiaconal control. Institutions were regularly given by the Bishop of Lincoln, (fn. 257) but inductions were made by the abbot. Until 1361 institutions were always made to the 'chapel' of Marsh Baldon, but in that year the official of the Archdeacon of Oxford made inquisition about the institution to the 'church'. (fn. 258) This interference may perhaps be accounted for by the abbey's general neglect of its duties during the office of Abbot Robert de Wynchingdon (134980). It had recently been at law, for instance, with the parish of Pishill for its failure to supply a resident chaplain. (fn. 259)
In 1363 the bishop's mandate was sent to the abbot. He replied that he had instituted an inquiry according to the custom in his archdeaconry through the chaplains of the churches; that the church was vacant and that he had instituted one Patrick, who had taken his canonical obedience in the name of the bishop, and that he had inducted him by his official by his own archidiaconal authority. Similarly in 1368 in the matter of an exchange of Marsh Baldon for a living in Salisbury diocese, the abbot returned that he had inquired 'through the parish chaplains of our jurisdiction'. Inquisitions and inductions were made in 1370, 1371, and 1372 by Dorchester, but in 1381 the Abbot of Oseney returned that he had inquired by the official of the Archdeacon of Oxford, had admitted a priest and inducted him by the official of the place. Inductions were made by the Archdeacon of Oxford in 1465 and 1468 and probably in all later pre-Reformation cases. (fn. 260)
This failure on the part of the abbots to exercise their jurisdiction in the final years of their rule resulted in some confusion over the relations of Marsh Baldon with the peculiar jurisdiction of Dorchester, which passed into the hands of the Fettiplace family at the Dissolution. (fn. 261) After the creation of the See of Oxford, the bishops of Oxford naturally instituted in the place of the Bishop of Lincoln, but the legal basis for inductions being conducted by the Archdeacon of Oxford was less strong. The fact that he did so on six occasions between 1549 and 1676 and that the bishop had always instituted, was later used to prove that Marsh Baldon was not within the peculiar of Dorchester and that the Abbot of Dorchester's authority had never been more than archidiaconal. (fn. 262)
The difference in the relations of Marsh and Toot Baldon with Dorchester was recognized in the valuation of 1535. Marsh Baldon was then said to be in the deanery of Cuddesdon in the diocese of Lincoln and the value of its rectory was returned, whereas the values of the other churches of the peculiar of Dorchester, all in the deanery of Aston, were not returned. (fn. 263)
Nevertheless, the jurisdiction of Dorchester continued to be recognized in so far as the churchwardens had to attend the peculiar court to make presentations and curates had to be licensed by the court. (fn. 264) Towards the end of the 18th century the court's authority was opposed by the Bishop of Oxford. He licensed the curate, and later began legal proceedings so as to terminate the peculiar court's jurisdiction. (fn. 265) He was supported by Sir Christopher Willoughby, the lord of the manor, who complained of the constant summonses of his parishioners. The case was still unsettled in 1804. (fn. 266)
The patronage of the 'chapel' was probably originally in the hands of the bishops of Dorchester and later passed to the secular priests of the church of Dorchester and then to their successors. (fn. 267) The Austin Canons had the church with its tithes confirmed to them in 1163. (fn. 268) The canons must have surrendered their rights to the de la Mare family soon after, for in the early 13th century, before 1219, Peter de la Mare presented to the chapel, (fn. 269) and the patronage continued in the possession of his family and normally followed the descent of the manor. An exception to the rule occurred in 1254 on the death of Peter de la Mare, when the advowson passed to Maud, his widow, as a part of her dowry, (fn. 270) though her son Robert was in possession of the manor. (fn. 271) In 1294 during the minority of Robert (IV) de la Mare, his guardian William de Montfort, (fn. 272) Dean of St. Paul's, presented. (fn. 273)
In 1405 the advowson with the manor passed to the daughter of Robert (V) de la Mare, Willelma, the wife of Sir John Roches. (fn. 274) On her death the advowson was separated from the manor and went to Elizabeth, her elder daughter and the wife of Sir Walter Beauchamp. (fn. 275) She and her husband were assigned it in 1411, (fn. 276) and Sir Walter was holding it on his death in 1430. (fn. 277) Their heir was William Beauchamp, who married Elizabeth, Lady St. Amand. (fn. 278) Before his death in 1457 he appears to have settled the advowson on his wife, for she is found presenting to the church in 1465 together with her second husband, Sir Roger Tocotes. (fn. 279) In 1504 her son Sir Richard Beauchamp, Lord St. Amand, was quitclaiming all his rights in the manor of Marsh Baldon and it seems that he had also surrendered his right to the advowson, (fn. 280) for in 1504 John Baynton granted it with the manor to Andrew Windsor. (fn. 281) From then until 1727 the descent of the advowson followed that of the manor, but in 1727 the manor without the advowson was conveyed to William Jennens of Long Wittenham. (fn. 282) The advowson remained with Mrs. Lane and later passed with the manor to the Willoughbys, (fn. 283) and subsequently to the Queen's College, to whom the advowson of the united benefice of Marsh Baldon with Toot Baldon belonged in 1954. (fn. 284)
The church was endowed with glebe and tithes. In 1279 the Hundred Rolls record that the parson was a free tenant of the manor, holding a virgate of land belonging to the 'chapel'. (fn. 285) Early-16th-century court rolls show that he was still a free suitor of the court. They say he held by charter a tenement and a virgate of land in the open fields for 4s. a year. (fn. 286)
At some uncertain date Eynsham Abbey was granted the tithe of the demesne of Marsh Baldon, and before 1235 had agreed to accept an annual payment of 12s. in exchange from Dorchester Abbey (fn. 287) a pension which was still being paid in 1535. (fn. 288) The abbey's rights were confirmed by the archbishop in 1320. (fn. 289) The pension together with its rights in Marsh Baldon were assigned to the cellarer. (fn. 290)
Owing to the inclusion of the chapel of St. Peter in the peculiar of Dorchester, it does not appear in the valuations of 1254 and 1291, but in 1535 it was valued at 6 13s. 4d. (fn. 291)
The rectors of Marsh Baldon continued to hold their virgate of land in the post-Reformation period: in 1626 it is referred to as 'Schurles' yardland. (fn. 292) Their right to all the great tithes of the parish, however, was a matter of dispute until as late as 1836. The demesne tithes which Dorchester had enjoyed in the Middle Ages were evidently included in the grant of Toot Baldon rectory made to Dennis Toppes after the dissolution of the abbey. (fn. 293) The actual phrase then used was the 'rectory of Baldon', but in later grants of what was clearly the same property the phrase used is 'the rectory or rectories of Toot Baldon, St. Lawrence Baldon and Marsh Baldon'. (fn. 294) All the rector of Marsh Baldon had at the end of the 16th century was the tithes of Little Baldon and of the yardland called 'Shurles' and some unspecified rights which he was stated in 1616 to have enjoyed for the past 20 years. (fn. 295) It was said later that he had never been presented to the rectory but only to the church, and that it was not until 1619 when a Mr. Humphreys was presented that the position of the rectors was clarified. Humphreys was presented to the 'rectory and parish church of Marsh Baldon'. Nevertheless, a few years later James Jennens the lay impropriator of the 'rectories' alleged in court that James I had licensed Lewis Pollard to alienate the rectories and churches of both Marsh Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence, and that Pollard had declared that the rectories of the two churches were the same. (fn. 296) In 1770 the efforts of the rector, Dr. Bacon, to recover his church's right to tithes led to a Chancery case in which the lay impropriator Francis Yateman claimed that Bacon had tried to withhold the tithes in Marsh Baldon which were legally due to Yateman. (fn. 297) Although the plaintiff's claim to all the tithes was dismissed and the judgement was upheld by the House of Lords, it seems clear from the documents produced that some lands were tithable to the lay impropriator and that other lands paid tithe to the rector when in hay and to the lay impropriator when in corn. The position was so confused that it was possible for the plaintiff to argue that there had never been a separate parish of Marsh Baldon and that Dr. Bacon was in fact not rector of Marsh Baldon but only a curate to the lay rector of Baldon. (fn. 298)
The matter was finally cleared up after the Inclosure Act of 1836, when the rector claimed tithes out of certain lands belonging to Sir Henry Willoughby, (fn. 299) which Sir Henry alleged were tithe free. It was decided after arbitration that the rector was entitled to all tithes except those of hay and corn on all land belonging to the Queen's College and to all tithes, both great and small, on all other lands in the parish. Further, that previous rectors had enjoyed the rectory house, gardens and out-buildings, Home Close and an annual payment of 14 as a composition in lieu of tithes of Manor farm. At the time of the inclosure awards the rectory house and close were worth 12 12s. a year. (fn. 300) The rector was finally allotted in 1841 about 25 acres for glebe and 62 acres in lieu of tithes and the churchwardens rather under an acre. (fn. 301)
After the mid-14th century the poorness of the living led to frequent changes of parsons by way of exchanges with other livings, (fn. 302) and in the early 16th century when Master William Knot was instituted, he did not reside, but paid a curate, one Oliver of Gloucester College, Oxford, 40s. to take the cure. (fn. 303)
The post-Reformation rectors who occur in the 16th-century court rolls are John Pollard, a relative of the Pollards of Nuneham Courtenay and Little Baldon, and his successor Leonard Lyngham, (fn. 304) who became rector in 1549, probably after having been curate. (fn. 305) He had been chaplain of Brasenose College, was a Proctor of the University, and later became a Canon of Worcester. (fn. 306) In the 17th century there was John Huxtable of Exeter College who was instituted in 1637 and ministered to the parishes of Marsh and Toot Baldon until 1676. He had been curate of Marsh Baldon under Mr. Sydenham in 1634. (fn. 307) It was in his time that steps were taken to restore decency to the church service. In 1663 a new Bible, Prayer Book, and homilies, a surplice and a cloth for the communion table were provided. Already, before the Restoration, money had been spent in 1657 on the repair of the church mounds. (fn. 308) Huxtable was followed by Joseph Bampton from Magdalen Hall, who also acted as curate of Toot Baldon. (fn. 309) He was visited by Anthony Wood, who described him somewhat inaccurately as merely vicar of Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 310)
For nearly half the 18th century Dr. Phanuel Bacon, certainly the parish's most interesting rector, was in residence (173083). At Marsh Baldon he is chiefly remembered for his attempts to bring about inclosure, so as to increase the value of his tithes, and for his friendship with Sir Christopher Willoughby and Mrs. Lane, the lady of the manor. (fn. 311) Mrs. Lane, a Pollard before her marriage, was the sister of Dr. Bacon's wife (ne Margaret Pollard). The friendship undoubtedly resulted in many benefits to the parish, (fn. 312) and was commemorated by Sir Christopher on a tablet in the church. On the other hand Bacon's interest in good farming and his desire to inclose embroiled him with the Queen's College and some of the yeomen farmers, and his claim to tithes involved him in a lawsuit with the impropriator of Toot Baldon. (fn. 313) Bacon's long correspondence with the college over inclosure, however, shows him to have been a reasonable and moderate man, as well as a learned one with progressive views. (fn. 314)
The visitation returns to the bishop and the churchwardens' presentments at Dorchester in the 17th and 18th centuries present a picture of a remarkably well-behaved parish. In 1702 they said 'our parishioners live orderly and well', and this seems to have been generally the rule. Some cases of refusal to pay church rates and tithes, neglect to repair the churchyard mound, and absence from communion represent the chief charges. (fn. 315)
At the end of the 18th century and in the early 19th century the church as well as the rural economy of the parish benefited from the energy and ability of Sir Christopher Willoughby. In 1802 the inhabitants were 'very regular in their attendance at church and orderly in their behaviour there', and this was attributed to the example and authority of the squire. (fn. 316) The church building was cared for and its rights upheld against the interference of the peculiar court at Dorchester.
In the early 19th century rising standards of living led to non-residence. In 1809 it was reported that the curate could not find a house in the parish and resided in Jesus College; (fn. 317) in 1812 there was still a non-resident curate, a chaplain of New College, who lived in his college. (fn. 318) His rector did not reside because of ill health and the smallness of the house. He stated that it was unfit for the residence of himself and his family, being only a farm-house which had been appropriated by the rectory but had never been occupied. (fn. 319) From later evidence it is known that this was a brick-built house with ten rooms. (fn. 320) An action was brought against him for non-residence. (fn. 321)
The institution of Hugh Pollard Willoughby in 1831 might have been expected to result in harmonious relations with the squirearchy, but owing to his quarrel with his half-brother over tithes he went abroad and the parish was neglected by the squire and rector alike. (fn. 322) The absence of any return to the episcopal visitation of 1834 may perhaps be attributed to this. For a few years (18368) the spiritual needs of the Baldons were looked after by A. C. Tait, later Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to have preached his first sermon in Marsh Baldon pulpit in about 1834. He and his friends, Thomas Golightly, curate of Chalgrove in 1806, and Dr. Johnson, Bursar of Queen's, used to come over from Oxford 'bringing their surplices and hoods in a bag'. (fn. 323) Later, in 1851, Willoughby put in a curatea man of only deacon's rank, who evidently had an uphill struggle. In 1854 in answer to Bishop Wilberforce's inquiry whether there was anything which impeded his work and the welfare of his church, he replied: 'the neglect and indifference of Sir H. Willoughby'. (fn. 324) The rectory house was still said to be in so bad a state of repair that the incumbent could not reside and the glebe land was in the possession of Sir Henry Willoughby, who was still disputing the tithe award thereof with his brother and was taking the annual rent himself. (fn. 325) The spiritual state of the parish was equally unsatisfactory. In 1805 there had been about 70 communicants, (fn. 326) in 1854 there were normally 24 and 40 at Easter and Christmas. The curate had a congregation of about 150 which he thought was on the increase; he had a Sunday school for 42; but he was unable to attract the older children after they had left school. He had, however, a successful evening school for seven months in the year, which was held five days a week. For the remaining five months he held a small singing class twice a week. (fn. 327)
The benefices of Marsh Baldon and Toot Baldon have been held together since 1913, and are now united. (fn. 328)
The church of ST. PETER comprises a nave, chancel, north aisle, and western tower. The only trace of Saxon work remaining is a scratch dial with cabled border, once on the south wall but now over the south doorway. It has been listed as one of the 24 certain Anglo-Saxon sundials now surviving. (fn. 329) The western tower was built in the early 14th century and is of unusual workmanship. (fn. 330) It has a square base and an octagonal top which may have been designed for a steeple. The nave and chancel appear to be chiefly 14th- or early-15th-century work. The south door has a shouldered arch and there is a wooden porch. The barge-boarding has been attributed to the 14th century but it may have been renewed in the late 16th century, since timber was bought for the porch in 1589. (fn. 331) The considerable rebuilding undertaken in the 14th century may account for the statement repeatedly made that Peter de la Mare built and endowed a chapel in 1341. (fn. 332)
Alterations appear to have been made in the time of Henry VII, but by 1588 the building was described as in decay (fn. 333) and minor repairs were carried out during the next twenty years. In 1605 a mason was paid 20s. to prop the tower arch; windows were mended, the leads were repaired and a sum of 25s. was paid for 'painting'pehaps the king's arms, which were painted in 1662 for the same sum. (fn. 334) To this period too belongs the carved pulpit.
In the 18th and 19th centuries a certain amount of alterations and restorations was carried out. Rawlinson recorded that the church was put into 'very neat repair' by Dr. Lane, the lord of the manor. (fn. 335) Sir Christopher Willoughby, another lord of the manor, was apparently responsible for adding the north aisle and having two windows put in the south wall of the nave. The wooden pillars and arches of the new aisle were justifiably described as 'very bad' and looking as if they were cut out of deal board. In 1806 Sir Christopher removed the east window with its old glass to this aisle and replaced it by a copy of Guido's Annunciation by Pompeo Batoni. (fn. 336) He had originally given this picture to Corpus Christi College, but it had been returned when the college acquired another altar-piece. To this period perhaps belonged the brick paving, (fn. 337) the west gallery, and the family pews of the Willoughbys which filled the north aisle and nave. (fn. 338)
The aisle was enlarged and rebuilt between 1888 and 1890. (fn. 339) The east window was restored to its original place, and its neo-Gothic stone frame was inserted in the new east wall of Willoughby's aisle. This is now obscured by the organ. The architects were Micklethwaite & Somers Clarke.
A new octagonal font of stone was put in 1890. (fn. 340)
The electric light in the chancel was given by E. G. Mackay in 1946.
The Perpendicular east window now has glass of three different dates collected from other parts of the church. In the centre light is 14th-century glass of the figure of St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read, under a canopy. The mother is clothed in green and has a nimbus, the child stands by her clothed in red and holding a book. In the side lights are the figures of the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist: these are thought to be part of a crucifixion scene. Below are 16th century coats of arms of Henry VIII with the letters 'H.R.', and two 14th-century shields of the Giffards and of the de la Mares. (fn. 341) The south-east window of the chancel has two 17th-century shields of arms, including those of Danvers and two 16thcentury shields, including those of Davye, a family related to the Pollards, which were noted by Anthony Wood on his visit to the church in 1660. (fn. 342)
Monuments include a Purbeck slab with a brass coat quartering the arms of Danvers in memory of John Danvers of Marsh Baldon (d. 1616) and one to John Bridges, Bishop of Oxford (d. 1618). A marble monument with twisted columns, figures of cherubs and a Latin inscription commemorates the death from smallpox in London in 1701 of Anne, daughter of John and Susanna Pollard of Baldon, and wife of John Cawley, Archdeacon of Lincoln. The death of their daughter from fever in 1680 is also commemorated. In the early 19th century two Gothic tablets were placed in the chancel by Sir Christopher Willoughby in memory of his friends and relatives. One of these commemorates John Lane, LL.D. (d. 1740), Elizabeth Lane his widow (d. 1771), Phanuel Bacon, D.D. (d. 1783) and Margaret Bacon his wife (d. 1767), and Ann Barlow (d. 1805). The other commemorates Juliana, first wife of Sir Christopher (d. 1777), his mother (d. 1799), and his infant daughter and son. Both tablets were removed to the nave in 1890.
There is a memorial to the dead of the two World Wars.
In 1553 there were three bells in the steeple. (fn. 343) In 1629 these were recast at Reading: the churchwardens' accounts record payments of 17s. and 9 8s. to the bell-founder for casting and metal; also of 4 16s. to the carpenter for a bell-frame. (fn. 344) In 1632 the sanctus bell was reported broken (fn. 345) and it was sent to Reading for repair. To defray the cost a rate of 9d. a yardland and 3d. a cottage was levied. (fn. 346)
There is now a ring of four bells. Two are the work of Ellis Knight (I), one is perhaps by John White and the sanctus bell was cast by Robert Wells (c. 1760). (fn. 347)
The church was never rich in possessions: in 1553 it had a chalice of 'sylver parcell gilt', which has since been lost or remade. (fn. 348) It now has a bellshaped silver chalice, a small plate-paten, a tankard flagon, all with hall-mark 1727, and a silver chalice with paten-cover, hall-marked 1764. (fn. 349)
The following parish registers survive: baptisms from 1559, marriages from 1598, except for 17248 and 173653, and burials from 1586.
The only record of Roman Catholicism in the parish occurs in the visitation returns of 1767 when one papist was returned. (fn. 350)
In 1676 there were said to be two Protestant nonconformists, (fn. 351) but there is no further record of nonconformity until 1837, when a meeting-house of unspecified denomination was licensed. (fn. 352) There is no further reference to the house, which was probably no more than a room in a cottage.
The school originated in a bequest in 1771 by Elizabeth Lane, (fn. 353) who left her farm called Herbert's in Toot Baldon with 4 acres for a building site and orchard in trust for teaching six boys and six girls to read. (fn. 354) In 1786 it was vested in Christopher Willoughby, lord of the manor. The annual income was 9. (fn. 355) The income varied from 10 in 1812 (fn. 356) to 6 in 1843; (fn. 357) the schoolmaster occupied the house with its orchard, and educated other children at the expense of their parents. It was said, however, that owing to early employment in the fields the children did not profit from these educational opportunities. (fn. 358) In 1824 the lord of the manor assisted with the provision of books for the twelve free scholars, and a payment of 1 a year for fuel.
The curriculum included reading, writing, and casting accounts. (fn. 359) By 1866 the numbers had risen to 56, (fn. 360) and by 1900 to 59. (fn. 361) The present schoolhouse was first used in 1873 and an additional class-room was erected in 1897. (fn. 362) Attendance by-laws were promulgated in 1881. (fn. 363) In 1929 the children over eleven were sent to Dorchester Church of England Central school, and the present primary and infant school was put in charge of a headmistress instead of a master, with a roll of just over 40, which had risen to 50 by 1952 when the school was still registered as a church school. (fn. 364) In 1914 the orchard had been sold to the Queen's College.
Leonard Wilmot of Clanfield, by a deed of 1608, bequeathed, subject to certain contingencies, a rent charge of 2 a year for the relief of the poor of Toot Baldon and one of 1 a year for the poor of Marsh Baldon. Both sums were being distributed annually on Good Friday in the 1820's. (fn. 365)
In 1887 20 was distributed in coals to the poor of Marsh Baldon and 8 paid out of the Marsh Baldon Poor's Allotment to the poor of Toot Baldon. (fn. 366) Both charities were still paid in 1939. (fn. 367)
Mrs. Elizabeth Hanks, a native of the parish, left in 1846 a share in the Oxford and Conventry Canal Company, the interest on which was to be given to two poor widows; and in the event of it exceeding 20, the surplus was to be given to the school. In 1952 1 7s. 6d. was distributed from this charity twice a year. (fn. 368)