A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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The ancient parish of Cowley is now almost entirely within the boundaries of the City of Oxford. (fn. 1) Before the alteration of its boundaries it covered 996 acres (fn. 2) and reached south-eastwards from Magdalen Bridge to the old Dorchester-Alchester Roman road, and north-eastwards to the far side of Bullingdon Green. The boundaries were remarkable for their artificiality: the north-eastern and south-eastern boundary lines branched off from the London Road beyond Magdalen Bridge at right angles. Similarly the eastern boundary made a series of rectangular bends to exclude, first the land where the Cowley Road Hospital now stands, and secondly the site of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. This irregular course was probably dictated by already existing arable furlongs. The Thames and the Cherwell marked its short western boundary, the need for access to meadows and the river probably explaining its elongated shape. (fn. 3) The hamlet of Hockmore Street or Middle Cowley formed a detached part of Iffley parish in the middle of Cowley until 1885 when it was transferred to Cowley parish. At the same time parts of Cowley were transferred to Forest Hill and St. Clements, and in 1886 Hockmore Farm and Cottages were also transferred from Iffley to Cowley. (fn. 4) In 1889 part of Cowley was added to the city of Oxford and out of this area, together with the part of Iffley transferred to the city at the same time, was created in 1894 the civil parish of Cowley St. John (603 a.). (fn. 5) The part of the ancient parish left outside the city (909 a.) continued to be a separate civil parish under the name of Cowley until 1928 when it was also added to Oxford and both parishes became merged in the civil parish of St. Giles and St. John. (fn. 6) The only modern relics of the ancient parish are the ecclesiastical parishes of Cowley St. John and Cowley St. James which are very roughly coextensive with it. (fn. 7)
The neighbourhood of Cowley was inhabited early; the Roman road passed nearby and several Roman pottery sites and settlements have been found here. (fn. 8) The name, meaning Cufa's wood or clearing, dates from the Anglo-Saxon period. (fn. 9) The main settlements grew up on a west-facing slope at the east end of the parish some two miles from Magdalen Bridge, where the Corallian ridge rises out of the Oxford Clay. By the 12th century Church Cowley lay round the parish church and Temple Cowley round the Templars' preceptory. (fn. 10) Between them was the hamlet called Hockmore Street or later Middle Cowley.
The villages were comparatively populous from early times. Domesday Book gives about 47 tenants of which 33 or more were probably in the later Church Cowley; the 1279 Hundred Rolls give about 94 tenants probably with some duplication; (fn. 11) and the 1377 Poll Tax gives 63 taxpayers over 14 for Temple Cowley and 93 for Church Cowley, (fn. 12) almost certainly too few. The population seems to have been little larger in 1676, when 195 communicants were reported, (fn. 13) and to have changed little by 1801, when it numbered 345. (fn. 14)
Until the mid-19th century the villages largely preserved their ancient agricultural character, though the six public houses then existing signify the beginnings of change—the 18th-century 'King of Prussia' at Rose Hill, the 'Old Swan' at Temple Cowley, the 'Swan', the 'Plough', the 'Oxford Arms', and the 'Cricketers' Arms'—doubtless named after Cowley Cricket Club, which was prominent in the village's social life. (fn. 15)
The Manor House Ladies' School, in Temple Cowley, had been opened by 1835 (fn. 16) and a boardingschool for boys in 1841, but the arrival in the second half of the century of a large military college, of a factory, and of the military barracks (1877) on Bullingdon Green transformed the Cowleys. The barracks, a large building in Charlbury stone containing a keep, officers' and married men's and men's separate quarters, a canteen and hospital, was built as a military centre for the 43rd and 52nd Foot regiments, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. (fn. 17)
The Wycombe Railway Company's line from Oxford to Thame, opened on 25 October 1864, passed through the south-eastern corner of the old parish. It was taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1870. (fn. 18)
In 1912 the firm of Morris Garages took over the premises of the bankrupt Military College, and the industrialization of the Cowleys advanced apace.
In 1921 the population of Cowley parish outside the city was still only 2,790, compared with 13,181 in the city parish of Cowley St. John, (fn. 19) but from the time of its inclusion within the city, its population has been expanding rapidly. (fn. 20)
Two notable ancient houses survive in Church Cowley. Bedford House, an L-shaped building of two stories, probably of early 18th-century date, is built of stone, has moulded stone eaves and cornice, and a roof of stone slates. There are two gabled attic dormers, one of which has an oval lunette. The door-frame of plain wood has over it a moulded and pedimented hood supported on ornamented brackets of wood. Inside there is a contemporary staircase. No. 8, the sometime Rectory farm-house, may have been built by William Napier. (fn. 21) It is rectangular in plan, two-storied, constructed of rough-cast rubble, and roofed with stone slates. There are five attic dormer-windows with gables on the northern elevation; in the west gable there are two ancient casement windows. The interior of the house has been modernized, but a little late-18th-century panelling remains.
There are also several good 17th-century cottages, notably on the west side of Church Street and in Barn's Court. The Vicarage at Church Cowley was built in 1897.
The Manor House of Temple Cowley stands on the north side of the main road opposite the 'Original Swan' public house. It is a 17th-century stone building of two stories with attics, much altered in the 18th century and at present in a dilapidated state. (fn. 22) The Diocesan School was established in it in 1841 and a chapel designed by E. G. Bruton of Oxford was added in 1870. After its conversion into the Military College Sir Thomas Jackson designed a further wing in 1876. (fn. 23) All these buildings are now part of the Morris motor works.
There are no traces of the Templars' preceptory which stood near Temple Street, apart from their fishpond, discovered when the public library was built. Their chapel (fn. 24) was probably on the site of the barn just below the 'Cricketers' Arms'. (fn. 25)
On the south-west corner of Temple Road is the 17th-century farm-house, once belonging to the White family, (fn. 26) and now derelict. It is L-shaped, two-storied, and built of rubble; it has a roof with stone coping, gabled dormers, modern red-brick chimney-stacks, and casement windows. Another 17th-century building, a barn of nine bays, survives at Southfield farm north of the Cowley Road.
Extensive building began to take place at the Oxford end of the parish about the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 27) In the preceding century there were said to be no more than five houses, (fn. 28) but the increase of the parish's population to 775 in 1851 is partly accounted for by development near the city. (fn. 29) By 1871 the population of the whole parish had risen to 3,725. (fn. 30) By 1901 the gravel terrace which extends for about a mile towards Iffley, east and south-east of Magdalen Bridge, had been completely built over, the low-lying clay of the marsh region forming a temporary barrier, (fn. 31) and the population of the civil parish of Cowley St. John inside the East ward of Oxford reached 11,061. Churches, shops, and schools came to serve the new community. It is characteristic of the neighbourhood that the Oxford Co-operative and Industrial Society built a shop in 1865 and that a Workers' Hall was opened in Magdalen Road in 1879. In the course of the next fifty years it was to become Oxford's most populous suburb.
The ancient fields and roads obliterated by the new industrial suburb can be largely reconstructed from documents and early maps. (fn. 32) The chief way to Oxford has always been the present Cowley Road, part of it known in 1605 as 'Berrye Lane'; it crossed the marsh as a causeway, past St. Bartholomew's Hospital, itself just outside the parish, and so to East (Magdalen) Bridge. Money was left for its repair in 1544. (fn. 33) In 1763 it was out of use; (fn. 34) the regular way from Cowley to St. Bartholomew was then across Headington Fields, probably the present Mud Lane, but perhaps the paved path found under the turf at the inclosure.
A second way to Oxford led from Church Cowley across the marsh and fields to the hospital. Its southern end, now Rymer's Lane, was 'Kames Sheephouse Lane' in 1605. The sheephouse was perhaps at the 'Shepherd's Close' of the inclosure award, as the north end of Catwell shot on 'Camb Sheephouse'.
'Berrye Lane' continued, as now, as Garsington Way: while from Church Cowley, Littlemore Road or Hockmore Way led southwards to the Wallingford Way. In the 18th century a field path, Thameway or Millway, led across Garsington Way towards Horspath. 'Mylleway furlong' occurs in a probably 16th-century terrier; (fn. 35) but on the 1605 map only the west end of the path is shown, named the 'toothless headland'. The Holloway was a great driftway to the outskirts of Shotover Forest. It may have been used not only for cattle but for bringing timber and stone from the forest and nearby quarries to Oxford; but perhaps such heavy loads were not taken right into the village and along the Marsh causeway, but by a longer and firmer route, the paved path in Headington fields. (fn. 36)
Iffley was reached by two field ways; Church Cowley Road or Cemetery Road was not cut until the inclosure.
The great Wallingford Way (Henley Road) missed the villages but crossed the fields; it did not run straight from East Bridge, but curved (as 'Londonisshe Street', in 1325) (fn. 37) from the Cowley Road east of the old St. Clement's Church.
In the actual villages, Between Towns Road (misleadingly called High Street on the O.S. map) did not exist until the inclosure; instead, Surman's Lane, a continuation of Holloway, led to a southerly extension of Hockmore Street, now Barns Court, and continued to Church Street as Church Path or the Grates, perhaps where Thomas Grate had two adjoining cottages in 1512. (fn. 38) Hockmore Street continued southwards as Redhead Lane, now gone, probably where the Redhead family (fn. 39) had property; and then turned right as a way to Iffley.
Church Street and Crowell or Cruel Lane are both old; the latter is not so called, as has been claimed, (fn. 40) from fighting in the Civil War, for it is mentioned as Cwrle Lane in 1512; (fn. 41) probably William Crowell or some kinsman had property there in the 15th century; (fn. 42) Crowell Close, in the early 16th century, (fn. 43) is apparently hereabouts and not at the mora called Crawell or Crowell in Headington manor. (fn. 44)
Part of Church Cowley was probably called Westbury in the Middle Ages. The messuage just north of the church was Westbury Close; the Templars had extensive demesne in Westbury, and two big holdings in 1512 were of 'Westburye lande, in diverse fields', (fn. 45) so it was evidently not just a furlong in Church Field (fn. 46) (cf. the modern Westbury Crescent).
In Temple Cowley the early settlement was probably along Temple Street and part of Temple Road, earlier called Crofts or Butchers Lane, (fn. 47) for in the 13th century there was a row of cottages with its west end at the ditch of 'Pytlesfurlong'. (fn. 48) This is otherwise called Piklefurlong or Pyellfurlong and is probably the same as Pye Hill, whence Pile Road. (fn. 49) At the far end of Butchers Lane was Court Close in 1605. By the brook here ran a driftway from the marsh to Bullingdon Green. Another way to the green was Salegate ('Saleyt' in 1512), (fn. 50) which used to turn north instead of joining Holloway; it was perhaps so named because the gate at its end was the meetingplace for selling the hay on the commons. (fn. 51)
By East Bridge there was another settlement of houses and shops from at least the early 13th century, (fn. 52) which was partly in Cowley parish and partly in St. Clement's. The two Cowley Mills, Temple and Boy Mill, were here, close together on the lefthand branch of the Cherwell, just below East Bridge: Temple Mill a little below the bridge, Boy Mill farther down. (fn. 53) Before Anthony Wood's time there was a bridge and causeway across both branches of the Cherwell, from Boy Mill to near the end of Broad Walk. Wood thought it was built by Wolsey for carrying timber and stone to his college. (fn. 54) There must always have been a crossing for Cowley haycarts and cattle to Milham, the big eyot, and perhaps as a way to Boy Mill from St. Frideswide's grange by the city wall. In Wood's time and later this was only a ford, and probably in the Middle Ages, for 'Milhamforde' is mentioned in 1512; (fn. 55) this makes Wood's dating of the bridge plausible. A lane led to Boy Mill from St. Clement's Church, and a branch of that to Temple Mill, (fn. 56) often mentioned in medieval charters. (fn. 57) Near Milham Ford was St. Edmund's Well, sacred to Edmund of Abingdon. (fn. 58)
The open fields to the east and south were Broad Field (or Southfelde in 1512), (fn. 59) East or Far Field or the field next to Horspath, and Wood Field; the last two perhaps formed the Over Cowley Field of 1512. To the west and north were three more: Bartholomew's, near the Hospital; (fn. 60) West or Ridge Field or the field next Oxford; and Campus or Compass Field (fn. 61) (or North Field?). (fn. 62) The Nether Field of 1512 covered Bartholomews and West Field. Near the villages there were Catwell (fn. 63) and Pipley (the medieval Pippelowe), (fn. 64) later covered by Church Field, (fn. 65) and Lake Field. There were furlongs between Rymers or Rymans Lane, Pile Road, and Temple Road, some giving names to modern streets; (fn. 66) inclosures were early carved out here. (fn. 67)
The three main Cowley meadows, Milham, Long Mead, and Sidenham, lay along the Cherwell and Shire Lake, probably once the Cherwell's main stream. They were mostly distributed by lot from at least the 13th century, when an acre in Milham was given 'to hold according as it lies among the men of Cowley by lot', (fn. 68) until the inclosure; but part, especially in Sidenham, was held severally from the 13th century, (fn. 69) and by 1605 some of this was inclosed. Sidenham was reached by a driftway, Drove Acre, across Wallingford Way.
The common pasture nearest the village was the Marsh, which probably included the 15th-century Westmore and Lakemore. (fn. 70) West Moor appears later; and there was meadow and pasture in Lake Field. (fn. 71) Bullingdon Green, part of which was in Horspath, was a large common pasture probably from the Middle Ages; (fn. 72) the university and town regiments mustered there on 21 May 1644 to prepare for the defence of Oxford; (fn. 73) in the 18th century it was used by the university for games and riding. On the green, near the Roman road, there used to be a rectangular earthwork, (fn. 74) regarded as a Roman camp in the 19th century, and also attributed to the Civil Wars. (fn. 75) It is certainly earlier than that, for it appears in 1605 as 'Bullingdon Penn'. (fn. 76) Hearne calls it a 'little hill', where popular tradition spoke of a lost village and castle; (fn. 77) and there was a tale of a giant of Bullingdon who stood hereabouts and 'shot over' Shotover Hill. (fn. 78) But 'Penn' here probably means not a hill but a sheepfold; perhaps the Templars' sheepfold (fn. 79), and the 'Cowley sheepfold' where a Hundred was held in 1240. (fn. 80)
On the outskirts of Shotover Forest, and arising out of medieval forest rights and inclosure of pasture, were the commons of the 'Hundred Acres' and, beyond the parish boundary, Open Magdalen and Brasenose and Elder Stubbs, where fuel was cut until the inclosure.
In the Middle Ages the Abbot of Oseney held in frankalmoin a manor of 2 hides (fn. 81) which came to be known as CHURCH COWLEY. It was the same estate as the 2 hides and ⅓ virgate held in 1086 by Roger d'Ivry of Bishop Odo of Bayeux. (fn. 82) After this and before about 1127 Roger d'Ivry must have given the 2 hides and the church to the church of St. George in Oxford castle, founded by him and Robert d'Oilly jointly, (fn. 83) and in 1149 St. George's and its endowments were given by Henry d'Oilly to Oseney Abbey, probably with the d'Ivrys' consent. (fn. 84) The 1255 Hundred Rolls correctly say that the abbot held 2 hides of the prebend of St. George of the honour of St. Valery (fn. 85) —the old d'Ivry lands; (fn. 86) the 1279 Rolls less accurately say it was 'of the gift and fee of Robert and Henry d'Oilly'. (fn. 87)
There is an undated charter by which Ralph Danvers with his son Roland gave Cowley church and 11 acres to Oseney. (fn. 88) They may be the mid-12thcentury Danverses, (fn. 89) or their later namesakes. (fn. 90) In either case the abbey already owned the church, (fn. 91) but the Danvers family may once have had some claim here. (fn. 92)
The manor and rectory seem to have formed one estate, sometimes known after the Dissolution as the rectory manor. In 1542 the whole property was given to Christ Church. (fn. 93) Just before this, in 1535 and 1537, the last abbot had made a long lease of the whole manor, probably including the rectory, to Henry Royse, though a lease of the demesne and rectory then in the hands of John Parsons to John Pulker and his wife and son had still to expire. (fn. 94) This was one of those 'long leases at low rents granted out by abbots who foresaw the Dissolution'. (fn. 95) Henry Royse sold the lease to William Napier.
In 1597 the dean and chapter brought an action in Chancery to enable them to raise the rents. Although witnesses for Christ Church agreed that the land was worth £72, the rent of £12 3s. a year (fn. 96) remained unchanged until 1874. A fair return was obtained by shortening the leases and increasing the fines for entries and for lives added. (fn. 97) Throughout its possession of the manor, the college reserved to itself the manorial rights in all leases made—courts leet and baron, fines, heriots, rents of customary and freehold tenants. (fn. 98) Rawlinson recorded that Christ Church was lord of the manor in the early years of the 18th century. (fn. 99) They were stated to be so as late as 1931, but their rights have now lapsed. (fn. 100)
The tenants of Christ Church rectory manor were notable in local life, and as citizens of Oxford. (fn. 101) The Roman Catholic family of Napier (fn. 102) held the rectory farm until 1671, when a new lease was made to Richard Holloway, sergeant-at-law. (fn. 103) The Holloways were followed as tenants in about 1721 (fn. 104) by the Wasties, who came from Eynsham. Francis Wastie (d. 1775) was the most prominent of the family. (fn. 105) His son, although still a tenant of Christ Church, was described in 1806 as lord of the manors of Great Haseley and Church Cowley. (fn. 106) His relative John Lockhart, a later tenant, changed his name to John Wastie in 1831, was M.P. for Oxford from 1807 to 1818 and from 1820 to 1830 (fn. 107) and recorder of Romsey and Oxford in 1835.
Temple Cowley manor originated in an estate held in Cowley in the 13th century by the Templars. It was made up of two separate holdings. The larger and earlier acquired was 3 hides in the fee of Boulogne, including a mill. (fn. 108) In 1086 this was held by Roger d'Ivry of Count Eustace of Boulogne. (fn. 109) In 1139 Stephen's Queen, Maud Countess of Boulogne, gave all her Cowley land to the Templars. (fn. 110) The Templars' inquest of 1185 (fn. 111) reports 4 hides of Queen Maud's gift, but the assessment later was still 3 hides. In 1217–18 this manor constituted 1½ knight's fee, held by the Templars of Baldwin de Austruy, (fn. 112) Constable of Boulogne. (fn. 113) It appears in the Hundred Rolls as 3 hides in the fee of Boulogne (fn. 114) or of Queen Maud's gift. (fn. 115) The Templars had a charter for a virgate in Cowley from Ralph Danvers, of mid- or late-12th-century (fn. 116) date; there is no trace of this land, and it was probably a grant of what he did not possess, like that to Oseney. (fn. 117)
The second holding was a ¼ knight's fee (fn. 118) in the honor of Wallingford composed of 6 virgates, of which 5 came to the Templars. This was the 1½ hide and ⅓ virgate in Domesday, held by Toli, who had held it T.R.E., of Miles Crispin, (fn. 119) whose lands became the honor of Wallingford. In 1166 and later it was held by the Chauseys, substantial knightly tenants of the honor, with their caput at Mapledurham. (fn. 120)
In the late 12th and the 13th centuries their tenants at Cowley (fn. 121) were the Chissebeches, who seem to have lived in Buckinghamshire, (fn. 122) perhaps at Chisbidge in Hambleden. Geoffrey de Chissebeche acquired the land through his wife Alice. (fn. 123)
Osbert de Cowley was perhaps sub-tenant in the later 12th century; (fn. 124) later the land was disputed between William de Cowley, probably Osbert's son, his sister Alice, Henry de Kersinton or de Cowley, and the Chissebeches. (fn. 125) William quitclaimed I virgate to Geoffrey de Chissebeche in 1197; (fn. 126) later Henry de Kersinton and his wife Denise Talemasch, (fn. 127) Alice de Cowley's daughter, established their claim to hold the other 5 virgates of the Chissebeches for 15s. a year. (fn. 128) From Denise this land somehow came to John, son of Hugh, lord of Tidmarsh in the honor of Wallingford, (fn. 129) who sold it in about 1217 to John Marshal of Ireland, (fn. 130) kinsman of the Earl of Pembroke. Marshal probably bought the land in order to give it to the Templars, which he did about 1220. (fn. 131) The Templars already held some of this land, the lane leading to their mill, under Osbert de Cowley, confirmed by John son of Hugh. (fn. 132)
In 1220 John Marshal was sued for a virgate of land by Gunnilda daughter of William, perhaps William de Cowley. She quitclaimed, and was granted a small holding by East Bridge for her mother, to hold of the Templars. (fn. 133)
Henry de Kersinton may have had a son who was neither his nor Denise's heir in Cowley; (fn. 134) a Richard Gupill sued the Templars in 1238 for a hide in Cowley, (fn. 135) and Richard son of Henry in 1245 for 5 virgates, (fn. 136) almost certainly this estate. He quitclaimed for 40 marks.
In 1247 two final concords were made, (fn. 137) after pleas, about this land. They show that the Templars held it of William Marshal, John Marshal's successor, (fn. 138) who held it of Geoffrey son of John son and heir of John son of Hugh of Tidmarsh, who held of Reynold de Chissebeche, who held of Geoffrey de Chausey. The outcome of these fines was that William Marshal and Geoffrey son of John renounced any rent; the Templars were to pay the 15s. direct to the Chissebeches, and the ¼ knight's service to the Chauseys.
In 1255 the Templars were reported to hold in Cowley 1½ hide of the honor of Wallingford, under Reynold de Chissebeche: (fn. 139) this includes in error the sixth virgate. In 1279, more accurately, they are said to hold 1 hide in demesne and 5s. rent from a virgate held by Thomas le Franklin, both given by John Marshal and paying 15s. to John de Chissebeche; while the sixth virgate was held by Richard le Franklin direct of Chissebeche for 3s. The whole 6 virgates paid scutage as ¼ knight's fee to John de Chausey. (fn. 140)
In 1338 the 15s. was still paid, to Richard de Chissebeche. (fn. 141) In 1428 these lands were reported held 'of whom is not known', (fn. 142) which suggests that the Chausey and Chissebeche lordships had been lost sight of.
The independent Franklin virgate may possibly have rendered its 3s. for a time to the Dentons of Sandford and Littlemore; (fn. 143) and it may have been absorbed into Temple Cowley manor, paying 1d. per annum perhaps for the old scutage, and passing to Brasenose College. (fn. 144)
Meanwhile, on the Templars' suppression in 1308, all their Cowley land was probably temporarily held by Queen Margaret, (fn. 145) but soon went to the Hospitallers: who allowed some or all of the rents for life to Robert Fitzniel, lord of Iffley, who died in 1331. (fn. 146) The Hospitallers had it in hand in 1512; (fn. 147) but by 1517 the manor of Sandford with large attached lands including Cowley was held at farm by Sir William Bedyll of London, (fn. 148) and in 1519 the whole was leased to John Pulker of Cowley (fn. 149) and Michael Heath of Oxford. (fn. 150) In 1528 the Hospitallers granted the manor in fee farm to Cardinal's College, whence it passed to the king. (fn. 151) In 1541 the Hospitallers were dissolved.
When Edmund Powell received a grant of the manor of Sandford and other possessions of the hospital in 1541, Cowley was not included. (fn. 152) It remained in royal hands until 1564, when Elizabeth I rented to Sir Francis Knollys the manor of 'Church Cowley' and 'Temple Cowley', along with the manors of Horspath, Littlemore, and Garsington. (fn. 153) Knollys had been M.P. for Oxfordshire and chief steward of Oxford since 1562. His son, Sir William Knollys, comptroller of the queen's household and plaintiff in the Chancery suit of 1602 concerning manorial rights at Cowley, inherited the manor in 1596. (fn. 154) He rose rapidly to eminence and died in 1632 as Earl of Banbury, leaving all his property to his wife Elizabeth. The original grant of the Hospitallers' lands had been made to his mother and father and the heirs male of their bodies. There was much dispute about the paternity of the two sons born to Elizabeth during the lifetime of Sir William Knollys, (fn. 155) but they were finally acknowledged to be his heirs. In 1627 Charles I transferred the rights to the fee farm rents of these lands to his queen Henrietta Maria as part of her dower, (fn. 156) and it was as the queen's possessions that the Commonwealth government drew up a bill of sale for them in 1650, exempting the remainder in fee in any sale made. (fn. 157)
At the beginning of the 18th century George Phipps was lord. (fn. 158) The manor, henceforth usually called Temple Cowley, remained in the Phipps family until the Revd. James Phipps, sometime scholar of Pembroke College and rector of Elvetham (Hants), devised it to the Master and Fellows of Pembroke College in his will dated 1763, subject to a life-interest for his wife. He died in 1773 and his wife in 1778. (fn. 159)
The canons of St. Frideswide's held land in Temple Cowley, apparently attached to their court of Bruggeset. (fn. 160) The church probably held it from the time of Ethelred, whose charter (fn. 161) of 1004 describes the bounds of Cowley and says it contains 3 hides. This is much smaller than the Domesday Cowley, which contained over 11 hides, yet the bounds in so far as they are intelligible include a large part of the present Cowley; from Cherwell Bridge eastward by Haklingcroft to a brook (perhaps that in Cowley marsh), round to Hockmore, then to Iffley, back to the brook, and then back to the Cherwell. This does not mean that St. Frideswide's ever owned all this land, since bounds described are not necessarily descriptions of the actual grant. (fn. 162) The holding is not explicitly mentioned in Domesday Book, but is probably included in the privileged 'four hides close to Oxford' held by the canons, (fn. 163) which would cover the Bruggeset lands.
In 1122, at the real foundation of the priory, Henry I granted or confirmed ½ hide in Cowley, and this is included in episcopal and papal confirmations, sometimes with an extra virgate. (fn. 164) King John's confirmation mentions a hide in Cowley, (fn. 165) and a late entry in the cartulary interprets this as a new grant and claims 1½ hide altogether; (fn. 166) the 13thcentury confirmations and the Hundred Rolls seem to refute this.
About 1170–80 the ½ hide was leased for life to Sired of Cowley for 5s. per annum; (fn. 167) by 1200 it had probably been granted in fee to Amaury de Cowley, (fn. 168) whose descendants held it: Andrew in 1225, Geoffrey Amory in 1255, and Andrew Amory in 1279, still at 5s. per annum. (fn. 169) At least 1 messuage was kept by the canons and leased for lives. (fn. 170) The priory had the tithes, which involved it in disputes with Oseney Abbey as rector; Andrew Amory's tithes were surrendered to the abbey. (fn. 171)
On the suppression of St. Frideswide's in 1524, the Cowley land passed to Cardinal College, thence to the king, and in 1532 to Christ Church. (fn. 172) In 1535 Christ Church had a close worth 20d. in Cowley, (fn. 173) possibly the holding that St. Frideswide's had retained. It was probably kept as part of Church Cowley manor. What remained of the old Amory fee may have become an obscure freehold.
Part of Cowley vill, with messuages in Hockmore Street, formed a detached part of Iffley manor and parish. This must be the bulk of the large Domesday estate of Lewin. Lewin, a royal servant, held Cowley in chief as 4½ hides, including one of the two Cowley mills (evidently the later Boy Mill) and two fisheries. (fn. 174) Probably the great burgess, Henry of Oxford, acquired most of Lewin's Cowley as well as Iffley: hence the references to 'Cowley and Iffley' where Iffley manor is meant. The estate later descended to Donnington Hospital. (fn. 175)
There was a large freeholding here, the de Kersinton-Burgan fee; (fn. 176) also some villein holdings, (fn. 177) including Dogetsplace. The Templars held several cottages either direct of Iffley manor or of the Burgan fee; (fn. 178) and four villeins were quitclaimed to them by the lord of Iffley in about 1200. (fn. 179) Iffley rectory lands were partly in Cowley fields; (fn. 180) and Kenilworth Priory (Warws.) held a virgate here, from the late 12th century, (fn. 181) bringing in 16s. at the Dissolution, (fn. 182) when it passed by two sales to Corpus Christi College in 1544. (fn. 183)
Land in Iffley manor near East Bridge was probably part of Lewin's Cowley; and the upper part of the Iffley fishery, going right up to Boy Mill, was probably his fishery. (fn. 184)
The two medieval mills were close together on the left-hand branch of the Cherwell just below East Bridge.
Temple Mill (fn. 185) was presumably the mill rendering 35s. in the 3 hides of Boulogne in Domesday. (fn. 186) It had a virgate attached then, but apparently not later. It was given with that manor to the Templars, and recorded in their 1185 inquest as two mills, (fn. 187) probably a two-wheeled mill. (fn. 188) In 1338 it was worth 30s. (fn. 189) Some time before 1512 it was leased for 20s. per annum to the Prior of St. Frideswide's, (fn. 190) who by this time owned the other mill; but in 1512 it was in decay and probably disused. Wood said it had been 'plucked down several ages since'. (fn. 191)
Boy Mill (fn. 192) was probably Lewin's mill in 1086, rendering 40s.; (fn. 193) it must have been detached from the estate before the estate was joined to Iffley manor. Godstow Abbey had acquired it (fn. 194) with attached lands and meadows by 1138, when a papal confirmation says it was given by Bishop Roger of Salisbury. (fn. 195) A note in St. Frideswide's Cartulary (fn. 196) maintains that he took it, with other lands, from St. Frideswide's and gave it to Godstow; but this claim is based on the bounds in Ethelred's charter, which are probably not the bounds of his grant. Godstow had also a little land in Bruggeset, perhaps going with the mill; about 1250 the nuns gave up some of this to St. Frideswide's in an exchange, but reserved their route to Boy Mill. (fn. 197) In 1358, in a further exchange, Godstow surrendered Boy Mill to the St. Frideswide's canons, (fn. 198) for whom it must have been a coveted addition to their Bruggeset lands. (fn. 199) But St. Frideswide's may possibly have had a mill there already. In 1290 and 1291 (fn. 200) there were complaints that the Templars and St. Frideswide's had raised the pond of their mills in Cowley, and narrowed the sluices, to the injury (i.e. flooding) of lands in Marston, the Oxford suburbs, and the king's manor of Headington, which stretched down to the Cherwell. (fn. 201) But there seems to be no other evidence of a mill here belonging to St. Frideswide's at that time; and indeed there could hardly have been three mills on so small a stretch of the river. Probably the prior was leasing one wheel of Temple Mill.
Economic and Social History.
During most of the Middle Ages the men of Temple Cowley were mostly tenants of the Templars, later the Hospitallers; but some held directly or indirectly of St. Frideswide's Priory. Those of Church Cowley were mostly Oseney Abbey's tenants; while some, including most of the men of Hockmore Street, which was regarded in the Middle Ages as part of Church Cowley village, held directly or indirectly of Iffley manor; (fn. 202) and some held of the Templars, both in Iffley manor and in their Boulogne fee. (fn. 203) The Templars' houses and lands in Church Cowley were perhaps 'Westbury'. The complex of houses and shops near East Bridge had several lords; (fn. 204) it belonged naturally to the suburbs of Oxford.
The two villages acted separately in some respects: paying rent for Shotover pastures, (fn. 205) answering for the escape of felons, (fn. 206) or paying taxes; (fn. 207) but they shared the same set of open fields, and dwellers in either village and tenants of any lord held strips scattered over the whole area. (fn. 208)
Hockmore Street was the chief settlement in 1086. (fn. 209) It was referred to as 'Cowley', not just as 'in Cowley', and, possibly together with a bit of Littlemore, it had more tenants and ploughs than any other Cowley estate: 25 tenants with eight ploughs, and a hide of demesne taken in from peasants' land (fn. 210) with two serfs and a plough.
What was later Oseney Abbey's manor had only four bordars and two serfs; there were no villeins (villani), and the whole 2 hides and a bit were apparently demesne. (fn. 211) But the abbey must have developed the land and encouraged settlers, for by 1279 only 1 hide was in demesne, while the rest was in the hands of some fifteen villeins and cottagers; (fn. 212) while the Hockmore Street bit of Iffley manor had hardly grown at all: there were perhaps ten or twelve villeins and fifteen or twenty cottagers. (fn. 213)
The estate which the Templars acquired in the 12th century was said in 1086 to have 6 villeins (villani) and 3 serfs. (fn. 214) Here too there was rapid development, for by 1185 there were 16 half-virgaters, though services were reckoned by the virgate, and 21 cottars; (fn. 215) in 1279 much the same, with the addition of 2 freemen and their estates with several cottagers, (fn. 216) successors of 2 villeins (villani) and 3 other tenants in 1086. (fn. 217) The St. Frideswide's estate too had a free tenant here with several cottagers under him. But Temple Cowley, where most of these men lived, was always the smaller settlement, and was called Little Cowley in the mid-13th century. (fn. 218)
One sign of development is that by 1225 some land which had once been common pasture in the marsh, near St. Bartholomew's Hospital, had been turned to arable—probably drained—by St. Frideswide's Priory. (fn. 219) Then the Templars were assarting in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, 'between Shotover Forest and Cowley': as much as 40 acres by 1189. (fn. 220) This was probably mostly what became East and Wood Fields, where the name Newland occurs later. (fn. 221) The big pastures of Bullingdon Green and Hundred Acres may already have been taken in by 1246, when there was a boundary hedge of Cowley near what was later Magdalen Wood. (fn. 222) Beyond, in the forest itself (fn. 223), the villagers had common rights by the 13th century. (fn. 224) The driftway to these remoter pastures was already called the 'Holweye', (fn. 225) and was perhaps the 12th-century 'wodeweye'. (fn. 226) Early in the 13th century the Templars built a new sheepfold on Bullingdon Green, probably for their outlying pastures, (fn. 227) perhaps the later Bullingdon Pen. (fn. 228) Their older fold was perhaps the sheephouse mentioned in 1512, with a shepherd's cottage nearby, on the west side of Temple Street, (fn. 229) near the site of the Templars' preceptory. The preceptory itself, however, was disused when the community moved to Sandford after 1240. (fn. 230) In the 13th century the Templars had barns and byres in Church Cowley just north of the church (fn. 231) (cf. the later Westbury Close), (fn. 232) while Oseney Abbey had farm buildings nearby: 'below Cowley vill', (fn. 233) probably downhill from Church Cowley, perhaps where the later 'Kames' sheephouse stood. The abbey was building a 'new house' in Cowley in 1280. (fn. 234)
In 1279 both these manors had freedom from suit to the hundred, and the common franchises of hue and cry, assize of bread and ale, and view of frankpledge. (fn. 235) Later, there are scattered rolls of Oseney's courts, including views of frankpledge, for Cowley by itself or jointly with other properties, but usually held at Cowley. (fn. 236) The St. Frideswide's tenants were probably attached to the canons' Bruggeset court. (fn. 237)
The Templars' tenants in 1185 (fn. 238) owed rent and work: (fn. 239) for each virgate, 6s. rent; two days' work a week most of the year, ploughing, sowing, and harrowing an acre both winter and spring; daily week-work in the usual three summer months, providing their own food; three boon-works in autumn with four men, with food provided by the Templars for one day of the three; and on Saturdays carrying corn to market if required. Each villein tenant, then, owed half of all this. The 1279 jurors merely said that the serfs held 8 virgates, probably still about sixteen holdings, for rent and work at the lord's will. (fn. 240)
The cottars in 1185 owed rents ranging from 9d. to 3s., together with a day's work a week most of the year, two days in August and September, boonworks like those of the half-virgaters, and hen-rents at Martinmas—four for a couple, two for a widow or single man. Of the 1279 cottars, if the jurors were right, 10 owed rent and apparently no work, while 13 others owed 52 cocks (the 1185 rate for 13 couples), week-work like their predecessors, and apparently no rent apart from any commutation of these dues.
In the late 12th century these villeins and cottars had to work 1 hide, or possibly 2, of demesne; but about 1219 the Templars acquired an extra hide of demesne; together with a freeman's rent, but apparently no villeins. (fn. 241) This suggests that the original tenants and the Templars must have needed extra wage labour. The Templars' villeins of Littlemore, where there was no demesne, may sometimes have performed their boon-works here, but owed no weekwork. The Templars also acquired in the 13th century more cottagers and a villein, from the fees of neighbouring freemen, but apparently all rent-payers. (fn. 242)
The services of the Oseney tenants are not recorded in the Hundred Rolls. There were probably about eight of them, occupying a hide, (fn. 243) with at least one given with his ½-virgate from a neighbouring fee; (fn. 244) and there were seven cottars each with 7 acres, who each paid the substantial services of 4s. rent and work at the abbot's will. (fn. 245)
Besides these villeins and cottagers there were a few substantial freemen in Cowley, (fn. 246) with their own cottager tenants. The earliest found by name are Sired and Osbert in the later 12th century, (fn. 247) holding in the honor of Wallingford; (fn. 248) Sired also held the St. Frideswide's ½-hide for life. (fn. 249) The family soon disappeared and their land came to the Templars.
The de Kersinton (or Cassington) family lived probably in Hockmore Street and were lords of most of it, under Iffley manor. William de Kersinton and his son Henry (fn. 250) were witnesses of the hundred in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Henry was a knight; (fn. 251) he married Denise, a descendant of Osbert de Cowley, and went to law about her land. (fn. 252) He was succeeded by a grandson or nephew (fn. 253) William Burgan, a freeman but not a knight, with a brother and tenant Ralph, both leading men of the hundred from about 1240 to 1280. Ralph was a clerk, (fn. 254) and probably provided for professionally; William too must have had other means of livelihood than this land, which he held as a ½-hide in 1279 (fn. 255) for a pound of pepper and of cumin. He can have had little demesne, for his tenants held some 68 acres; (fn. 256) his successors had 9 acres of arable and a little meadow in demesne. (fn. 257) Most of his tenants held for small services, none specifically for labour, and apparently none in villeinage; he and his predecessor had alienated at least two villeins. (fn. 258) Much of the fee, including ten out of twelve cottages, had been alienated by piecemeal grants, partly of demesne, (fn. 259) by the family to the local religious houses. (fn. 260) One of William de Kersinton's grants was for the souls of the last three lords of Iffley; (fn. 261) one of Henry's was for a loan of 10 marks to free his land from the Jews. (fn. 262) He was in debt a few years earlier, when he and his lord, Reynold Basset, applied for relief from usury on their debts to two Oxford Jews. (fn. 263)
Another free family which must similarly have impoverished itself by debts and piety were the Amorys, the descendants of Amaury de Cowley in the late 12th century. (fn. 264) In the 13th century they held the bulk of St. Frideswide's fee, a ½-hide, for 5s. rent. (fn. 265) They had at least one villein, (fn. 266) and several rent-paying cottagers, who lived in a row along Pile Road, at the east end of which was the Amorys' own house. (fn. 267) In the early 14th century they had at least three small free tenants, perhaps originally villeins. (fn. 268) They seem to have had no labour services, and were probably employers of wage labour. They made grants to the local religious houses. (fn. 269) Andrew Amory, an outstanding freeman of the hundred in the later 13th century, sold land to St. John's Hospital for £4 'for my most important business' (fn. 270) — probably debt; and he gave the Templars his row of cottages to maintain a light in their chapel at Sandford. (fn. 271) His son William sold rents and lands; (fn. 272) and got in debt to the lord of Iffley. (fn. 273)
Then there were several Franklins in the early 13th century. (fn. 274) From about 1240 to about 1280 Richard and Thomas Franklin are often found as witnesses. (fn. 275) They were not originally as rich as the Burgans or Amorys. Each held freely a virgate in Cowley. Thomas was the Templars' only free tenant, paying 5s. rent and scutage. Richard held direct of the Templars' overlord, for 3s. and scutage. (fn. 276) They perhaps inherited from the two villeins in 1086; (fn. 277) they had each a few cottagers paying rents of from 1s. to 3s. Richard had a son Miles, a tanner; (fn. 278) Thomas's grandson Thomas, a clerk, was a frequent witness and juror in the 14th century. (fn. 279)
Some smaller men, both bond and free, are of interest in showing that already small holdings were being combined in the hands of prospering peasants. The villein William Moth held land of both the Amory and the Burgan fee, until he was given with his land to the Templars by both his lords; (fn. 280) the free Fennes held very small holdings of various lords; (fn. 281) and the Stubs, also probably free, held in Littlemore as well as Cowley. (fn. 282) The free Herts (fn. 283) in 1323 held some land freely of the Amorys and some in villeinage of Oseney Abbey. (fn. 284) The Randolph family was in the same position in 1328; (fn. 285) they held land once Andrew Amory's until at least 1388 (fn. 286) and also appear in Oseney court rolls. (fn. 287)
The small-holders and cottagers were thus perhaps less numerous than they seem; but from them must have been drawn a fair amount of wage labour, probably already needed by all the lords.
Some individual initiative seems to enter the agricultural arrangements in the 13th century. In 1269 Andrew Amory leased two strips, not far apart, in West Field to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, to be held until twenty crops had been taken. One acre was to be sown for two years and fallow the third; the other to be sown for three years and fallow the fourth. If Andrew's neighbours round the second acre made 'inhok'—a temporary inclosure for arable within a field lying fallow in the ordinary rotation— this was not to count as one of the twenty crops. (fn. 288)
Various trades were already practised. A skinner and a tanner had cottages in 1185; (fn. 289) there was another skinner a little later, (fn. 290) and Richard the Franklin's son was a tanner with a shop near East Bridge. (fn. 291) There were one or two weavers in Cowley throughout the Middle Ages; (fn. 292) one Agnes was sued by the Oxford websters in 1275. (fn. 293) A little later a tenterer was a tenant here; (fn. 294) fifty years later the surname Fuller appears. (fn. 295) Robert Maltale, about 1250, was presumably a maltster. (fn. 296) Stone was quarried in Cowley in the early 14th century. (fn. 297) There were of course smiths (fn. 298) and millers. William of Temple Mill in 1185 was perhaps the last tenant miller: (fn. 299) Alexander the miller in the 13th century, (fn. 300) and Hugh 'le millewarde' in 1367, (fn. 301) both held land in Temple Cowley but did not apparently lease either mill. One Cowley miller early in the 13th century had property in Oxford. (fn. 302)
Plague may later have helped to change this pattern of society. It probably struck Church Cowley in 1349: a few Iffley villeins died, two of them, Liripin and Herny, in Hockmore Street. (fn. 303) They were two doors apart, (fn. 304) and between them was a freely held house which that same year changed hands, (fn. 305) perhaps by the tenant's death. There are also hints of depopulation by East Bridge in the 14th century. (fn. 306)
Throughout the later Middle Ages families in Cowley came and went, while land was repeatedly bought, sold, and leased by residents and strangers. (fn. 307) The name Burgan disappears after 1279. (fn. 308) The Amorys vanished after the mid-14th century; the property was by then probably largely scattered. Thomas the Franklin's name and estate went down, twice through women, to the 15th century; (fn. 309) after that both Franklin estates were repeatedly sold. (fn. 310)
Outside families with property here include the Minkans or Mimekans of Garsington and Headington. Philip, the Shotover forester of the later 13th century, had land in the Burgan fee; (fn. 311) his descendants, down to William Minkan, baker of London, held land in both villages until the early 15th century, leasing it to local families. (fn. 312) The prosperous Smiths of Littlemore for a time probably leased the old Burgan lands; and got in free tenure an old villein holding in Church Cowley, Dogetsplace, sold after a generation. (fn. 313)
The purchaser, Thomas of Cowley, was of a family with mixed town and country interests— Oxford burgesses and Cowley tenants in the 14th and early 15th centuries. (fn. 314) His son Thomas Cowley, although a burgess, lived at Dogetsplace. (fn. 315) He got Byrtsplace too, (fn. 316) a small-holding in the Templars' manor, (fn. 317) which had been free by 1318. (fn. 318) Their property came to a kinsman from Gloucestershire who sold it; it went to the Hyes of Marston and Church Cowley, yeomen or gentlemen, whose family after two or three generations left only daughters. (fn. 319)
Another burgess with interests here was John Smyth in the later 15th century, skinner of Oxford; besides leasing a garden of Oriel's, (fn. 320) he accumulated freeholds, probably the Minkans' and one of the Franklins'. (fn. 321) He too left a daughter, whose husband and son made one of the last grants to religious houses in Cowley, giving this land to Littlemore Priory. (fn. 322) Even before the priory was dissolved, other coheirs of John Smyth were in possession. (fn. 323)
Meanwhile conditions were changing for the villeins and their successors the customary tenants. By 1512 (fn. 324) there had been much commutation on what had been the Templars' and was now the Hospitallers' manor. The customary tenants normally owed 20s., instead of 6s., for a virgate, and only two 'bederepes' (reaping boon-works); amongst them were cottagers with varying holdings, paying rents of 2s. and upwards, and sometimes 'bederepes'. The demesne had been much reduced. In 1338 there had been 280 acres of arable and 18 of meadow; (fn. 325) by 1512 there seem to be only 53 acres of arable and 14 of lot meadow. (fn. 326) No several meadow is mentioned though there had been some earlier. Some of the demesne had evidently been granted in villeinage; instead of 8 virgates of villeinage and a few cottagers' acres, there were about 13½ virgates of customary land; and whereas in 1338 there had been 80 acres of demesne in Westbury, in 1512 there were large customary holdings of 'Westbury land' (60, 36, and 20 acres). These partly new holdings had lower rents: 20s., 19s. 2d., and 6s. 8d., with no 'bederepes'.
There were also more free tenements in 1512, held in socage with double rent for relief: three small-holdings, perhaps old cottagers' holdings, including Byrtsplace; and two holdings of 1¼ virgate, one of them the old Franklin tenement, still rendering 5s.; the other, rendering only 1d., may have been sold out of demesne but was perhaps the other Franklin tenement, somehow brought into the manor.
Something may have been left out of the 1512 survey, for the estimated receipts then came to only about half what they were in fact fourteen years later, i.e. £28. (fn. 327)
There were apparently in 1512 only twelve customary tenants on this manor, ranging from cottagers, including a Franciscan friar, (fn. 328) to substantial men with 2 virgates or more. Some of these tenants may have been freeholders as well, or have held also of Oseney's manor, (fn. 329) of which much less is known. Certainly some customary tenants on both manors had reached yeoman standing and wealth.
For instance, in the 15th century, Walter Pulker, holding of Oseney Abbey, was a big sheep farmer who was fined for carrying crops and cattle across other tenants' land, and for overburdening the pasture by 300 sheep. (fn. 330) A later Pulker was the Hospitallers' customary tenant in Littlemore, (fn. 331) as was John Pulker in 1512 in Church Cowley, holding Westbury Close. (fn. 332) To these holdings the family added big leases. In 1518 John Pulker leased from Oseney the Cowley demesne and rectory; (fn. 333) next year he and an Oxford man leased the Hospitallers' commandry of Sandford, with the obligation to provide a priest for the Temple Cowley chapel. (fn. 334) He left small bequests (1545) to Cowley and Iffley churches. (fn. 335)
Another flourishing customary tenant was Richard Cholsey in 1512, holding Hospitallers' lands amounting to some 130 acres, largely of Westbury land, partly perhaps new pasture; with two houses in Temple Cowley. (fn. 336) Twelve years later he was the richest man there, assessed at £9 a year for the lay subsidy, of which he was the collector. (fn. 337) Richard Colls had also combined customary lands (fn. 338) on a smaller scale; he paid the subsidy on 40s. Richard Lirpyn, with a little farm near Butcher's Lane— 1½ virgate of copyhold—was of an old villein family. (fn. 339) The Redheads were probably customary tenants of both manors in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 340)
The Parsonses of Church Cowley were prosperous farmers in the 16th century, though it is not clear whether they had any copyhold or inheritance in Cowley. John Parsons leased the Cowley rectory after John Pulker, (fn. 341) whose relative he married. His will of 1544, like Pulker's, left his body to be buried in Cowley church, small bequests to Cowley, Iffley, and other churches, and 3s. 4d. to the President of Corpus Christi College for mending the road between Cowley and St. Bartholomew's. (fn. 342) In 1524 he was the richest man in Cowley, assessed at £19 a year, and collector of the subsidy for Church Cowley. (fn. 343) His son (fn. 344) William Parsons had a 30-year lease from Brasenose College, and tried to get the Littlemore tithe farm. (fn. 345)
There were nineteen substantial subsidy-payers in Church Cowley and thirteen in Temple Cowley in 1524. They include several of the Hospitallers' tenants of 1512, but as many new names—presumably mostly Oseney tenants, freeholders, or sub-tenants. The richest after Parsons and Cholsey was William Mede, who held about 20 acres of Westbury land, (fn. 346) leased a good freeholding, (fn. 347) and perhaps had land in Iffley. (fn. 348) Two of the Temple Cowley men are called Hosteler; perhaps there was already an inn there. (fn. 349)
About this time much of the speculation in freehold was ended. It brought considerable estates to Brasenose and Corpus Christi Colleges, whose tenants several of the Cowley husbandmen thus became. (fn. 350) Robert Forman, a Cowley gentleman who speculated in land, bought up John Smyth's estates in Temple Cowley manor and sold them to Sir John Brome of Holton; (fn. 351) who sold them to Brasenose between 1534 and 1539. (fn. 352) Forman also bought, and sold to Brome, the old 'Franklyns' holding in Temple Cowley, which Brome sold to the first President of Corpus in 1532. (fn. 353) It probably became the farm known as 'Lewis's homestead' in the 19th century, with two very old cottages, said to be the original farm-house. (fn. 354) Corpus also acquired much land in Church Cowley, mostly in Hockmore Street; this included both the old Hye estates, which had passed from a daughter and her two successive husbands to one of her coheirs and her husband, the Masons, who sold to Corpus Christi College, (fn. 355) and also, after the Dissolution, Kenilworth Priory's virgate. (fn. 356)
Alongside these new accumulations were older subtenancies, now more or less independent. (fn. 357) Oriel College had land and a house or houses somewhere near the junction of Cruel Lane and Hockmore Street, which had belonged to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, mostly in the Burgan fee, (fn. 358) and which had been let out at long leases by the hospital and later the college. (fn. 359) Magdalen had a few acres in Temple Cowley which had been St. John's Hospital's, mostly from the Amorys. (fn. 360) Some of the old Burgan fee had come to Lincoln College; (fn. 361) and Godstow Abbey had a little land, from unknown sources. (fn. 362)
About the time of the Dissolution the lead in local life was taken by the Pulkers and Parsonses, as chief tenants of Oseney, although they were only yeomen. Their successors at the rectory farm were gentlemen farmers with interests not confined to Cowley, and men of property before they acquired their Cowley leases. Henry Royce (d. 1557), (fn. 363) successor to Parsons and the last of Oseney's tenants, held leases at Binsey, Malton (Glos.), and Hendred (Berks.), besides his farms of Church Cowley and Medley. (fn. 364) They were followed by the Napiers of Holywell manor, (fn. 365) the Holloways of Oxford, the Wasties of Eynsham and Great Haseley (Oxon.), and the Lockharts of Sherfield House (Hants): all gentlemen farmers and sometimes professional men.
The Redheads, Pikes, Whites, and Hursts were the true yeomen families of Cowley from the 16th to the 19th century, though they too occasionally acquired gentle status. They held small freeholds in Temple Cowley and when chance came took college and other leases. By marriage and purchase they increased their possessions, but, because of partible inheritance and the necessity of mortgaging land to provide dowers for their daughters, they were always liable to sink to the level of cottagers.
Since the 16th century, Redheads had leased a yardland from Brasenose at Temple Cowley, and Donnington land in Hockmore Street. Two Redheads were rated at £3 8s. in 1624; (fn. 366) others contributed to the levy for Fairfax's army in 1647; (fn. 367) three of them returned two hearths each for the hearth tax of 1665. (fn. 368) In 1700 a John Redhead styled himself yeoman, (fn. 369) but the family fortunes soon declined. Their Brasenose lease was taken up in 1728 by Henry White, nephew of James White of Cowley (see below), (fn. 370) and their Donnington lease by the Pikes before 1751. (fn. 371)
The prosperity of one yeoman family can be followed for nearly 300 years. Stephen Pike of Temple Cowley and Robert Pike (d. 1567) were both substantial contributors to the subsidy of 1559. (fn. 372) Robert's property went to his son William, (fn. 373) who was a wheelwright as well as well as a farmer. (fn. 374) In the early 17th century Stephen Pike (fn. 375) and Richard Pike (fn. 376) were in comparatively humble circumstances, but in 1647 Leonard Pike was a sub-collector for Church Cowley. (fn. 377) John Pike, rather better off than his Redhead neighbours in Hockmore Street, returned three hearths in 1665, and a John Pike who was a yeoman farmer of Temple Cowley at the end of the century, left £100 to a younger son and £60 to a daughter on his death in 1727. (fn. 378) In the next generation, Abraham Pike (d. 1751), acquired freehold land in Iffley and Littlemore, which he left to his daughter's children. (fn. 379) His son Abraham was a substantial yeoman farmer with his farm-house, 2 yardlands, a cottage, and another half-yardland in Hockmore Street, who could offer his future sonin-law William Hurst an alternative of £500 as dower for his daughter Ann in lieu of a share of his land. (fn. 380)
The Whites were a wealthier family. In 1665 a James White lived in a substantial Jacobean house in Temple Street, (fn. 381) the second largest house in the village. He was probably the James White who was sub-collector for the subsidy at Church Cowley in 1647, and who held land in both Church and Temple Cowley. (fn. 382) In about 1670 a relative, John White, was holding 2 messuages and 2 copyhold halfyardlands of Christ Church, for 16s. a year, (fn. 383) and in 1718, another relative, very possibly his son, James White of Temple Cowley, yeoman, died possessed of land and houses in both villages and made bequests of £340 in cash. (fn. 384) By the middle of the 18th century the family had risen into the gentry class. (fn. 385)
The Hurst family were similarly for the most part substantial yeomen, but they prospered so that by the mid-19th century they too styled themselves gentlemen. At the end of the 17th century Edward Hurst, yeoman of Temple Cowley (d. 1726) held his land freehold, (fn. 386) and by 1771 his family had added to it a lease under Christ Church of 65 acres. (fn. 387) Further leases were acquired: Stephen Hurst, the elder, of Hockmore Street, yeoman, left in 1818 his yardland of arable, meadow and pasture under the Archdeacon of Oxford to his son Stephen; his Donnington lease at Iffley to his son William, (fn. 388) who added the Pike lease under Donnington by his marriage to Ann Pike; and a cottage apiece to his wife and daughter. (fn. 389) By 1850 the family also held freehold land at Garsington, (fn. 390) and William Hurst of Cowley (d. 1856) styled himself gentleman. (fn. 391) Altogether the Hursts received 156 acres of freehold at Temple Cowley by the Cowley inclosure award, 40 acres more than that received by the lords of the manor, Pembroke College.
Extracts from a court roll of 1573, made for the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, show that the agricultural life of the parish was then partly ordered in the courts baron. The cleaning of ditches, repairs to bounds, encroachments on the arable, removal of merestones, tree-planting, and rights of pasture on the common fields and lord's waste were sometimes dealt with there. (fn. 392) But witnesses called in a lawsuit of 1602 between Christ Church and Sir William Knollys over common of pasture, described a kind of parish meeting as the source of such decisions. (fn. 393) Later evidence shows that the inhabitants of Church Cowley, Temple Cowley, and Hockmore Street were accustomed to meet annually in May to appoint hillsmen and a hayward. (fn. 394) This practice may have grown up at an early date in a parish where several settlements under different lords shared a common field system. The tithe award shows hayward's 'hams' in the three meadows and an 18th-century terrier mentions a hillsman's 'ham'; these were presumably held by the officers for the time being. The hillsmen were usually the most substantial farmers, like the Wasties, the Whites, and the Hursts. They kept the accounts which survive in full for the years 1764 to 1793 inclusive, (fn. 395) and made the claim that it had been the custom once a year 'time out of mind . . . to sell the common mears in the fields and the hillsmen to enjoy rights as usuall'.
There were eighteen mears: Dyer's plat, Tan pits, Sand pits, and others, for which the rents varied from £6 19s. in 1764 to £9 17s. in 1782 and £11 6s. in 1793.
The hillsmen's duties included receiving these rents, and ordering the mending, putting up and taking down of gates, as well as the mounding and ditching of the mears. They appointed the hayward, who kept the common fields clear of such pests as crows and moles, paid for beer and ale on 'Hill Ale's day' as well as for various foods such as veal, bacon, and bread. They also appear from 1766 to have disbursed 5s. annually to the poor from money given by a Mrs. Wadnell. (fn. 396) In 1786 a special rate amounting to £30 10s. 6d., together with a further £9 6s. 6d., was levied for inclosure money. The disbursements of this money included £7 4s. 4d. spent on a lawsuit, dinner, and expenses for the jury to go out and 'set the mearstones'. (fn. 397) When Richard Davis of Lewknor, the cartographer, surveyed Christ Church lands in 1802, the amount of inclosure in the parish was still negligible. He found that the commons had been stocked without stint, but articles were then drawn up laying down the maximum numbers of cattle and sheep allowed for each yardland, and for cottagers. (fn. 398)
The farmers desired an inclosure act and held a meeting in the 'Kings Arms', Oxford, on 13 October 1821 to work for it, (fn. 399) but Pembroke College held up the award until 1853, and insisted on a supple mentary award (24 January 1856) to protect their manorial rights. In Church Cowley the whole award, with a few small exceptions, went to Christ Church (278 a.). In Hockmore Street (Iffley parish) Donnington Hospital received some 163 acres, but other small freehold allotments were made to Corpus Christi (40 a.), Christ Church, Pembroke, Lincoln, and Brasenose Colleges, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and eight private persons. Temple Cowley was divided among 36 freeholders: Pembroke College (116 a.), the Hurst family (156 a.), John White (40 a.), Thomas Smith (41 a.), the Revd. Thomas Evetts (38 a.), Henry Walsh for Wastie's land (25 a.), the trustees of Sir Joseph Lock, Brasenose College, Corpus Christi College, and others. (fn. 400) The Christ Church surveyor in 1853 complained that delay in giving effect to the award was causing the land to decline in value. But holdings soon increased 25 per cent. in value, though the increase had dropped to 20 per cent. in the valuation of 1867. (fn. 401)
Farming until recent times was the main occupation of the Cowleys, but Temple Cowley developed a subsidiary peat industry. It was famous for this in the early 18th century, (fn. 402) when, as wood was scarce, peat was cut out of the marsh every March and dried; the pits were filled up again with the grass and top-soil, and were again cut in twenty or thirty years' time.
Quarrying may have been more important than the known documentary evidence would lead one to suppose. The inclosure award of 1856 set aside 3 one-acre plots for quarries for the surveyors of highways, but the 'old Quarry' marked on the Ordnance Survey map (1881) was not one of these, and may have been a survival from medieval times. (fn. 403) By the mid-19th century the villages, on account of their closeness to the expanding city of Oxford, had more than the normal complement of rural industries.
In 1851 there were only two farms left in Church Cowley, one of 340 acres and one of 50 acres, employing 24 labourers between them. (fn. 404) Altogether there were 46 agricultural labourers and a shepherd living in the village as well as the usual number of village tradesmen, like the blacksmith, carpenter, and shoemaker. But the influence of the city was shown in the large number of bakers, namely 4, and the variety of trades: there was a shirt-maker, 4 tailors, 4 laundresses, a mason, 2 builders, 2 printers, a bookbinder and a cabinet-maker and also 4 dealers and 2 clerks. The large number of servants, of whom there were 22, and a number of gardeners, show the increasingly residential character of the village.
Temple Cowley was more rural; there were still 7 small farms under 150 acres, of which 4 were under 50 acres. There were a number of allied agricultural occupations—5 butchers, a pig dealer, and a poulterer. Apart from 4 masons, 4 bricklayers, and 3 gardeners, most of the village was still engaged in agriculture.
The building trade was strongly represented in Temple Cowley in 1869, when there were two carpenters, a stone mason, a brickmaker, and a builder. Industry was by now established in the village, for the Oxford Steam Ploughing Company had opened a factory in Hockmore Street in 1868, which prospered during the agricultural boom, declined somewhat in prosperity from 1878 to 1886, then recovered when the firm began to make steamrollers. By 1907 they had 200 employees. (fn. 405) Early in the 20th century the Church Army opened a small printing works in the disused Congregational chapel in Temple Road, and in 1912 the firm of Morris Garages began to assemble the parts of motor-cars at Temple Cowley. (fn. 406)
The working of the poor law between 1714 and 1833 can be gathered from the overseers' account books. (fn. 407) Before 1718 only one overseer was appointed, but from 1718 on there were two. The appointment during the first half of the 18th century was made by the justices of the peace, but after 1768 the parish itself annually nominated and appointed its overseers, the justices merely agreeing to its decision. The overseers were responsible to the vestry, and in 1798 were reprimanded for extravagance at their meeting, having spent 17s. instead of the customary 5s. In 1822 a select vestry normally consisting of the minister, two churchwardens, two overseers, and eight or more leading farmers such as the Hursts, Pikes, Whites, and Greenings, began to be elected to supervise local affairs and deal with special appeals. In the same year, in addition to the two existing overseers, a paid overseer was appointed at a salary of 4 guineas a year.
The accounts show the gradual rise of expenditure on poor relief. The average for the years ending April 1717–1721 was £25 18s., as compared with £109 17s. for the years 1796–1800. The real rise occurs at the turn of the century and continues until 1834; the average for the years ending 1815–19 is £372 and for 1829–34 £371. War conditions and the high cost of living are reflected in the sudden rise from £112 in the year ending April 1800 to £158 in the following year. Furthermore, an entry of October 1800 states that it was decided at a vestry meeting to make special extra allowances to 21 people on account of the high price of bread. The entries during the early years of the 19th century are divided into ordinary weekly payments and extraordinary disbursements, and the figures suggest that during these years many families were forced to apply for additional allowances.
The parish house is first mentioned in 1795, when John Hurst was paid £20 for its building; he received another £5 in 1796 and 1797, and a further £10 in 1798. In 1816 and 1817 it was altered and new rafters inserted. From 1800, however, the overseers paid James White an annual rent (presumably a ground rent) of 3 guineas for the parish house, which was raised in 1808 to 4 guineas. In 1819 William White is found paying a shilling a week to 'rent and occupy the parish house'.
At the end of the 18th century the practice began of providing the able-bodied poor with work. Male applicants for relief were set to dig stones, while the women might either pick stones or be set to spin, weave, and knit. The parish owned its own spinning wheel, and sums paid out for material frequently occur in the accounts. The first entry was made in 1775, when 8 lb. of hemp were bought; other entries occur in 1779 for 71 lb. of hemp, in 1797 for 20 lb. of flax, and in 1808 for 80 lb. of flax. Out of the sale of sheets and stockings the parish sometimes made small profits of £4 or £5 a year.
The extraordinary disbursements show the overseers trying to ameliorate hardships and deal with major crises. Extra food might be provided during sickness. In 1719, for example, £7 14s. 6d. was given for victuals to a man while sick; another entry is for two bottles of wine to a sick person. Payments were also made to a woman to nurse the sick and for medicines from 1776 to 1834. £2 2s., for instance, for innoculation in 1806 and £7 7s. in 1817; an annual contribution of £1 was made to the Radcliffe Infirmary for treatment; from 1809 a doctor was paid £3 3s. a year to look after the parish poor, but in 1816 the allowance was raised to £8 8s., and in 1826 to £9 8s. Help was given to isolated cases of smallpox (one a year in 1714, 1750, 1797, and 1800). In 1815 nearly £2 was given to take a child to the Duke of York's Asylum in Chelsea, and in 1817 money to take one child to the 'salt water'. Frequent disbursements occur for clothing, sometimes even for furniture (£3 5s. in 1821). Payments for education are rare, but in 1801–2 £2 8s. occurs for schooling poor children. The direct influence of the war is shown in a number of items: £11 in 1795 for a man for the Navy; £21 19s. 6d. in 1800–1, 1803, and 1812 to the families of militia men.
There was no education provided for poor-law children until 1831, when an industrial school was opened on a site near the present Cowley works. The regulations for its government issued in 1854 by the Poor Law Board reveal something of the rigour and austerity of the reformed poor law. The children were segregated into three classes, girls and boys over seven and infants under seven, between whom all communication was forbidden. They received eighteen hours' instruction a week in reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion, as well as some training in agriculture, industry, or housework. No child was allowed to move except to the sound of a bell; regulation clothes were issued; conversation at meal-times was forbidden and no child could receive a visitor except in the presence of an officer. At sixteen, every child if not already placed in work, was removed to the workhouse. (fn. 408) In 1871 there were about 60–80 children, but in order to lower costs, which were estimated to be about 4s. 6d. a week for each child, it was decided to try to raise the numbers to 300. (fn. 409) In 1901 a chapel was added to the school.
The church was granted to Oseney Abbey in 1149 by Henry d'Oilly. (fn. 410) Bishop Hugh de Welles included Cowley in his ordinance about vicarages for Oseney's appropriated churches. (fn. 411) The vicar, really a perpetual chaplain, was to have 2 marks for his clothing, a share in the offerings, meals at the canons' table, a clerk, a boy, and a horse when he went on the canons' business, while the canons were to bear all expenses. (fn. 412)
The rectory was assessed at 10 marks in 1254, (fn. 413) and at 12 marks in 1291. (fn. 414) In the early 16th century it was leased, with the demesne of the manor and a rent, for £12, (fn. 415) to John Pulker in 1518, (fn. 416) and to John Parsons by 1535. (fn. 417) Some time between 1450 and 1470 Oseney was paying 26s. 8d. as in the original ordinance, but to two chaplains, (fn. 418) in the early 16th century 40s. to one, (fn. 419) and in 1535, 53s. 4d. (fn. 420) Although the abbey still paid the chaplains, John Parsons was said in 1535 to lease not only the rectory but the vicarage; (fn. 421) in fact there was really no vicarage.
At the Dissolution the advowson and rectory were given with Church Cowley manor to Christ Church. (fn. 422) The college's tenants regularly farmed the tithes in Church and Temple Cowley, or let them to a lesser farmer, (fn. 423) until they were commuted for rent in 1846. (fn. 424) The total area subject to tithes in kind was then estimated at over 1,008 acres, and their total value at £293 14s. 3d. They all belonged to Christ Church with the exception of 4½ acres, valued at £1 18s., which a subsequent award acknowledged to belong to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by right of the Archdeaconry of Oxford. Martha Burford was the Christ Church lessee and her rent charge, excepting some 178 acres of glebe lands, was fixed at £212. The 'Hundred Acres' and some 22 acres which formerly belonged to the Templars were exempt from tithes.
The tenant of the Rectory manor also leased the parsonage house as his dwelling. (fn. 425) In the 16th century the curate, as he was then called, appears to have been lodged there, but later at various farms or at Christ Church. (fn. 426) Not until the early 19th century was a house built for him by the tenant of the manor at the corner of the road joining Church Street and Iffley Road, and in 1871 the present vicarage was built south-west of the church. (fn. 427) His stipend and his Sunday dinner were a further responsibility of the tenant. By 1826 he was receiving £11 13s. a year from the tenant, J. J. Lockhart, and £11 from the dean and chapter. (fn. 428) In 1953 the net value of the benefice was £645. (fn. 429)
In the Middle Ages there was, besides the parish church, a chapel attached to the Templars' preceptory, dedicated soon after 1139. (fn. 430) Many of the chaplains of Cowley, found as witnesses in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, are presumably the Templars' chaplains, not the parish priests. One charter is witnessed by 'Roger chaplain of Cowley and Robert chaplain of the other Cowley'. (fn. 431) Cowley tenants in the later 13th century made gifts for the upkeep of lamps in the chapel. (fn. 432) After the move to Sandford, and even after the Hospitallers' succession, the chapel was evidently kept up; in 1519–20 the tenants of the Sandford commandry had to provide a priest to say mass here three times a week. (fn. 433) It probably had the right of sanctuary; Leland mentions the father of Sir Humphrey Stafford who 'had such a route in Worcestershire in King Edward IV's and Richard III's dayes; and at last for fere of Henry VII fled to Cowle, a certain obscure sanctuary betwixt Oxford and Abingdon'. But this must have been a mistake for Culham, a well-known sanctuary. (fn. 434)
The medieval chaplains of St. James's Church were not all as poor as their stipends would suggest. One was able to buy a corrody at Oseney; two others had property in Oxford. (fn. 435) And the abbey was evidently prepared to raise the stipend with rising prices. (fn. 436) But there was neglect in 1517 or 1520, when the chancel was reported ruinous, choir stalls broken, and the divine offices not held at the customary hours. (fn. 437)
After the Dissolution the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church kept the patronage of the living in their own hands and normally appointed from among their own students. Thus, many of Cowley's 18th-century curates afterwards became eminent in academic and church life. (fn. 438) As curates, however, they were undistinguished and appear to have had little contact with their parish. They resided in college and performed the minimum amount of parochial duties—two services and a sermon on Sundays; prayers and communion services on the 'solemn festivals', i.e. six times a year. They also catechized in Lent and occasionally on Sundays. The number of communicants fell from between 30 to 50 in the first half of the century (fn. 439) to about 20 in the second half. In 1774 the curate reported that there were too many who absented themselves from public worship through negligence, chiefly servants and children. He feared the number had increased lately and he reckoned the communicants as not more than 20; an entry in the churchwardens' book in 1783 that persons were not to be buried without leave of the minister and a fee of 5s. suggests past laxity. (fn. 440) In 1808 the incumbent estimated that the congregation, including children, numbered between 120 and 180, but failed to give the number of communicants, only noting that the communion service was less regularly attended. (fn. 441) The picture is quite different by 1854. (fn. 442) Father Benson was resident; he had an assistant curate; two services were held on Sunday and on saints' days and two sermons preached; there was morning or evening service each day of the week; children were catechized in school and church. The congregation had risen to 250, though, as he commented, it still did not bear a fair proportion to the population on account of the 'people's extreme indifference to religion, the want of comfort in the church', and their distance from it.
The rapid growth of a large residential suburb (fn. 443) for industrial workers within his country parish led Benson to build a church of painted iron in Stockmore Street in 1859, and to plan for a new parish church, as St. James's had grown too small for the increasing numbers. (fn. 444)
But by 1862 the difficulties of using the only good available site for a parish church had proved insuperable, for it was outside the ecclesiastical parish. It was decided instead to enlarge the old church and to build a district church nearer to Magdalen Bridge (later St. Mary and St. John's). (fn. 445) In 1864 Benson left Cowley village to live in the new suburb and concentrate on its needs. Besides actively carrying out his ordinary parochial duties, he extended the iron church on its original site (later called the church of St. John the Evangelist and seating 500 in 1891), and founded a school, a movement for the restoration of the religious life of priests, and, in 1868, a Mission House of St. John in Marston Street. (fn. 446) In addition, as a result of his campaign, the ecclesiastical parish of Cowley St. John was formed in 1868 out of parts of Cowley, Iffley, and St. Clement's. (fn. 447) Having resigned from the living of Cowley St. James, he became the first vicar of Cowley St. John in 1870. The building of the new parish church was begun in 1876. After 1884 the Society of St. John (see below), became patrons of the living. The benefice was endowed between 1868 and 1879 with £116 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 448) In 1928 its net yearly value was £400. (fn. 449)
The attempts of Benson's successors at Cowley
St. James to enforce church discipline and administer
the church charities strictly led to a period of bitter
strife between the parishioners and their parson. (fn. 450)
The Revd. James Coley after several disagreements
was finally forced to resign in 1875 because of
his refusal to bury a notorious ill-liver, Frederick
Merritt. After a petition had been signed by more
than 250 ratepayers for the burial of the corpse, the
local authorities intervened. The burial took place,
eleven days after death, amidst scenes of great
disorder. The church was broken into by members
of a threatening crowd, said to include 40 or 50
navvies with their picks. Opposition to Coley
appears to have been largely personal, for although
he was a high churchman, Benson had been so too,
and yet had filled the church and been very popular.
Nor were radical politics responsible: the leader
of the critics, William Plowman, was chairman of
the Conservative Association. By 1873 an article in
the Oxford Times headed 'Cowley Schism', reported
the church to be empty and the parishioners nearly
all gone over to dissent and the Evangelical Union.
Coley had also quarrelled with his vestry, beginning
with a dispute in 1871, when the vestry refused to
allow the diversion of the footpath to Rose Hill so
that a parsonage house might be built. After the
Merritt scandal he could get no churchwarden to
serve under him; the school was closed; the church
was in debt. In February and March 1875 meetings
of the parishioners in turn asked the bishop to hold
an inquiry into the conduct of the vicar and to
suspend him. Punch pilloried Coley of Cowley with
lines after Johnson:
See Coley, scarcely wise, and hardly just, Over unburied Merritt raise a dust.
Coley's successor, the Revd. George Moore, found the parish equally undisciplined and in 1883 quarrelled with his vestry over the election of waywardens. (fn. 451) The Oxford Chronicle referred (fn. 452) to Cowley's 'evil odour', and to its always having been at loggerheads with its vicars. The secretary of the Military College, on the other hand, wrote to deny its supposed 'riotousness'. He said that the state of the public houses on Saturday night compared well with their state in other villages. In 1884 and 1885 there was further serious trouble over the Poor's Allotment and the Bread Charity, (fn. 453) and in 1888 the 'pugilistic parson' was summoned a second time for assault in the churchyard. (fn. 454)
Meanwhile the new parish of Cowley St. John prospered. Soon after Benson had settled in the district, he was joined by two men who shared his ideals, S. W. O'Neill and an American, C. C. Grafton. In 1866 they took a vow to live in celibacy, poverty, and obedience as mission priests of St. John the Evangelist. Others followed their example, and in 1884 the constitution of the Society of St. John the Evangelist was formally drawn up. Consisting of priests and lay brothers, associated in the same religious dedication and observance, it was soon to extend its influence far outside Cowley, to London and several continents, but at first its main activity was parochial work in Cowley, and its influence there has always remained strong. (fn. 455) As vicar of Cowley St. John (1870–86), Benson built in 1873, near to the Mission House, the St. John's Home as a hospital for incurable patients; began building the parish church of St. Mary and St. John in 1876; and laid plans for a daughter church, St. Alban the Martyr, in Charles Street, which was opened in 1889, after his resignation. (fn. 456) His church in Stockmore Street continued to serve the parish until 1896, when it was presented to the Society of St. John.
Oseney Abbey probably rebuilt the church of ST. JAMES after acquiring it in 1149. The oldest parts of the present church, (fn. 457) the eastern part of the nave and the chancel arch, are late-12th-century; there may have been an apse or a short and narrow chancel. (fn. 458) The north and south doorways are also plain Romanesque work of the late 12th century, both reset.
In the 13th century the chancel was built, or rebuilt and widened. The east window of three lancet lights, one north window and two south windows, square-headed, one south window extending below the sill as a 'low side', are original, as are the three dwarf-buttresses of the east wall. A higher wall arch encloses the original chancel arch on the east face, perhaps to support a bell-cote. The nave was probably extended westwards at this time, and the south doorway moved. (fn. 459)
In the 14th century two new windows were put in the south wall of the nave, one of two, the other of three lights.
In the 15th century the west tower was added; that at Horspath resembles it. (fn. 460) It is of two stages with an embattled parapet, and a three-light west window (restored). The bell-chamber has two-light square-headed windows on the north, south and west walls; the mullions have gone from the north and south windows. Of this date is the third window in the south wall of the nave, later restored and lengthened.
Sixteenth-century wills show that there was a Lady altar and light as well as the high altar with St. James's light. (fn. 461)
In the 17th century small additions were made: a rectangular panel on the outside wall, once canopied; twelve poppy-heads carved for some nave seats in 1623; (fn. 462) and a new bell-frame in 1694, just after the acquisition of three bells.
On the south wall there was formerly the inscription: 'this church was beautified in the year of Our Lord 1702'; possibly plastering, painting, and whitewashing, as in 1753. (fn. 463) In 1790 the bells were rehung. (fn. 464) In 1809 and 1824 galleries were added, since removed, and the window by the south door was enlarged. (fn. 465) Presentments in the 1840's show that the roof was 'very much out of repair'; (fn. 466) it may have been after this that the ceiling was built; in 1802 there had been none. (fn. 467)
Hitherto the church had been small and plain; a long narrow parallelogram, one-third of its length being chancel. At a time when the population was over 1,000 and growing fast it was said to hold 120 adults and 150 children, and that only by the use of 'a long gallery and very unsightly pews which fill up the chancel'. (fn. 468) In 1864–5 it was enlarged and restored by G. E. Street. The north wall was replaced by an arcade of two bays in the chancel, and five in the nave, and a new north aisle, incorporating the Romanesque north doorway, and vestry were added. The nave roof was raised, so that it is now higher than the tower, of which the east window looks into the church. It was apparently intended at the time to heighten the tower. Besides this, the galleries, private pews, and stone bench were removed, the chancel floor raised, the south porch rebuilt, and an organ chamber, (fn. 469) a new font pedestal, and new marble reredos added. Monumental tablets were moved into the tower and some of the frescoes, recently uncovered, were 'reproduced'. (fn. 470)
These frescoes had been first noticed, and rescued from the repeated scrubbings and white-washings of a 'dissenting mason who had a particular spite against the "superstitious stuff" he had discovered', by incumbents earlier in the century. (fn. 471) At the restoration and later they were partly scraped down, extensively sketched, and partly recoloured, but seem to have perished while the roof was off. Faint traces remained until a repainting in 1929; (fn. 472) the only remnants now are lozenge and spiral decoration on the chancel arch.
There were ten layers in places, the earliest supposed to be 13th-century. The later medieval layers were mostly decorative powdering, and 'godly texts' were added in the 17th and 18th centuries. The representational frescoes were mostly in the chancel, and included a woman presenting a church to another woman, which is obscure unless Edith d'Oilly was regarded as the donor to Our Lady of Oseney; a burial picture; the Father with the Son crucified; censing angels; Christ blessing; a Virgin and Child; apostles; and a boy bishop. (fn. 473) A will of 1544 mentions a picture of St. Edward, (fn. 474) perhaps amongst what were taken for apostles, but perhaps not a wall-painting at all.
The font is of the 12th or 13th century, on a modern base.
In Edward VI's reign there were three bells and a sanctus. (fn. 475) Later there were five bells: two of 1738, one of 1739, one, cracked by 1935, of 1693, and the tenor of 1694; the first three by Edward Hemins, the last two probably by Richard Keene of Woodstock. There was also an unhung sanctus of 1691 by Richard Keene. A bell was apparently recast in 1740 at a cost of £18 3s. (fn. 476) In 1949 all but the sanctus were recast by Mears and Stainbank, with the old lettering reproduced, and a new treble was cast with an inscription beginning 'Remember 1939– 1945 . . .'. (fn. 477)
In 1796 the plate comprised a silver cup inscribed 'Oxon 1717', a silver flagon of 1730, and another of 1782, the gift of the Revd. John Randolph. (fn. 478) Now (1953) there is only some mid-19th-century plate given by Father Benson. (fn. 479)
The monuments include one in the tower to Richard Wickham, 1612–13, and floor slabs to members of the Phipps family in the early 18th century. (fn. 480) There are memorials to officers and men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who fell in India and elsewhere during the late 19th century.
The registers for baptisms, marriages, and burials begin in 1678. The first has several pages of briefs inserted.
A. Mardon Mowbray of Oxford was commissioned to design the parish church of ST. MARY AND ST. JOHN in 1875. It is built in the early Decorated style with walls of Charlbury stone and external dressings of Box ground weather stone. It comprises a chancel, dedicated in 1876 to the memory of Archbishop Longley, a former curate; a clerestoried nave of five bays; (fn. 481) transepts, aisles, vestry, organ gallery, and tower. The latter was not completed until 1893, after a change of the original plans, which had included a high spire. (fn. 482) There are seats for 700.
A separate conventual church, ST. JOHN THE EV ANGELIST, Iffley Road, for the Cowley Fathers was begun in 1894. The architect was G. F. Bodley. The chancel, lateral side chapels, nave, and vestries were completed by 1896, the tower added in 1902, and the church structurally completed by the addition of two porches in 1907. It is of Bath stone in the Gothic style. The stained glass in the east window was designed by C. E. Kempe. The wooden figures for the rood were made at Oberammergau. The organ is by Beale and Thynne. (fn. 483) A song school was originally built next to the church, but in 1935 this was converted into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The architect was H. S. Rogers. The church has seats for about 600.
Accounts of the churches of St. Alban and St. Luke, built in 1933 and 1938 respectively, are reserved for treatment in a volume on Oxford city.
Recusant families of yeoman status occur in the returns of 1603 to 1633. (fn. 484) The family of Napper or Napier of Holywell manor and Cowley rectory farm were also prominent Roman Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Christ Church lessee William Napier had a priest's hiding place on his land at Cowley during Elizabeth I's reign. (fn. 485) He married Elizabeth Powell, daughter of Edmund Powell of Sandford, another leading recusant. (fn. 486) Their son Edmund had twothirds of his Oxfordshire estates, including Church Cowley, sequestered for recusancy under the Commonwealth. (fn. 487) Thomas Napier of Temple Cowley, Edmund's younger brother, married Mary Collins of Cowley. In 1651 he was arrested for failing to co-operate on the arrest of his relation, Sir Robert Napier, M.P. for London, who had fled to Cowley in 1643. (fn. 488) In 1673, of the four grandsons of Thomas and Mary, two were soldiers in the service of the King of France, one was a Benedictine monk and one a Jesuit priest. (fn. 489) Prynne alleges that Lewes Cook, whom he styles 'General of the Benedictines', and who died at Temple Cowley in 1635, had established a house of priests there under the protection of Queen Henrietta Maria. (fn. 490) After the decline of the Napiers' influence in the parish, there were no professed papists there. In 1676 all the inhabitants conformed, (fn. 491) and the same was reported in 1738. (fn. 492) Thirty years later the incumbent knew only of one poor woman who was a papist (fn. 493) and in 1780 returned Jane Briggs, wife of Mathew Briggs, schoolmaster. (fn. 494) The Roman Catholic chapel of St. Ignatius in St. Clement's parish began to serve the area in 1795. (fn. 495)
A community of Capucin Franciscan Friars was established at Temple Cowley in 1906, and until 1921 occupied the premises in Crescent Road which had been St. Kenelm's (Anglican) School, and which are now part of the Salesian College. The church was later used both as a school-chapel for the Salesian College and as a parish church for the Roman Catholics of Church and Temple Cowley. The chancel was built in the late 19th century as the chapel of St. Kenelm's School. (fn. 496)
The Roman Catholic church of St. Edmund of Abingdon and St. Frideswide, built in Iffley Road in 1911, is served by the Franciscan Capucin Friars, who built a new friary adjoining it in 1921. The church, an imitation of early Romanesque architecture, is built of flint, dressed with Derbyshire grit stone and roofed with red Bridgwater tiles. It consists of a chancel with Lady chapel and organ chamber, a nave of four bays with aisles, separated by cylindrical piers of Corsham stone, a north porch, a square baptistery corresponding to this porch on the opposite side, and a western tower with a saddleback top and a small copper-covered spire. It can seat 200. (fn. 497)
The Presbyterian preacher Henry Cornish, when ejected from his canonry of Christ Church in 1660, lived at Cowley until the Five Mile Act forced him to go to Stanton Harcourt. (fn. 498) There are no other recorded notices of Protestant dissenters at Cowley until John Randolph, future Bishop of Oxford, was curate there. Bishop Butler noted in 1784: 'Dissent and Absentees increased by Field Preachers', in spite of Randolph's zeal. (fn. 499) By 1811 there were a few Methodists, but they had no meeting-house (fn. 500) and none was built in the parish until Henry Leake of Iffley built (fn. 501) a chapel with a burial ground—an unusual feature for a village chapel—at Rose Hill in 1835. There were from 40 to 50 members in 1837. In 1839 the chapel and its land were conveyed to the Wesleyan Methodists. The chapel was nearly closed in 1850, when the minister expelled all the members but three for their sympathies with the leaders of the Wesleyan Reform movement. The early congregations were almost entirely illiterate, and Leake founded a school in 1855 for poor boys, adjoining the chapel. He also founded a benefit society and bought 10 acres of land, which he let out in allotments of a quarter of an acre at nominal rents.
A list of professed dissenters in the parish chest of Cowley St. John, dated 1860, gives some thirty names. In this year Leake's chapel was reconveyed to the founder and reopened as a United Methodist Free Church. The congregation joined the union of the Free Methodists, the Methodist New Connexion and the Bible Christian Church in 1907. A new vestry was added and the churchyard walled and fenced in 1886. Gas was installed in 1921, electric light and central heating in 1929. (fn. 502)
The 19th-century expansion of Oxford led to the foundation of several village missions. George Street (Oxford) Congregational Church established a mission led by the Revd. David Martin in a warehouse in James Street, Cowley, in 1868. In 1869 they erected an iron church at the corner of James Street and Cowley Road for worship and Sunday school. (fn. 503) An independent congregation for Cowley was established in 1870. Its church, designed by John Sulman and built in the Gothic style of brick and stone, replaced the iron church and was opened on 23 June 1881. (fn. 504)
The Revd. David Martin and his wife built a second Congregational church in Temple Cowley (Temple Road) in 1878. It is a red-brick building with stone facings, now the property of the Church Army Press. An independent congregation was established in 1886. It built a church hall (now the school-room) in 1904 at a cost of about £900, and having outgrown its first church in Temple Road, it obtained a new site at the junction of Temple Road and Oxford Road, and built its present church in 1929–30. This was designed by G. Smith. It is in the shape of a Latin cross, is built of red brick, and has a castellated tower at the north-western corner. It can seat 400. (fn. 505)
The Magdalen Road Mission grew out of meetings held in a house next to the Eagle Tavern some time before 1879 and later took over the Workers' Hall for its place of worship. The first pastor, Alfred Davis Trotman, was provided by the London City Mission. He and his successor had the title of City Missioner and Pastor for Oxford. The hall is undenominational and can seat 200. (fn. 506)
The first recorded school in Cowley (fn. 507) was that kept by a 'respectable person of the Church of England' in 1808. This may be the same as Mrs. Quatermain's school, which the curate paid for 12 children to attend in 1815. (fn. 508) In 1818 (fn. 509) there were two small fee-paying schools for 40 children, while the other village children attended schools in Oxford, for which they were said to be very grateful. In 1833 (fn. 510) there was one fee-paying school for 30 children. In 1834 the first free school, that of St. James's, was founded. In 1851 (fn. 511) it was described as a National school, in a neat stone building, with accommodation for 110; it was supported by voluntary subscriptions. By 1871 it had an average attendance of 73. (fn. 512)
In 1877 a new schoolroom for infants, which was also used as a chapel, was erected for £700 on a site in Temple Cowley Road given by Father Benson, and in 1884 a new girls' school was built for £800, out of money raised by local subscription. (fn. 513) In 1901 this school was used as an infants' and girls' school, while the junior and senior boys attended St. James's Church School, which in 1902 was reopened with accommodation for 160 children. (fn. 514) These two schools continued to serve St. James's ecclesiastical parish until 1930. In this year a new school was built at Temple Cowley, to which the infants were transferred, the old building continuing as a school for junior and senior girls. Further reorganization took place in 1933 after the building by the city council of Temple Cowley Secondary Modern School. The girls' school became St. Christopher's school for infants and juniors, and St. James's School, from which the older boys were transferred to the new secondary modern school at Temple Cowley, also became a school for juniors and infants. (fn. 515)
During the 19th century the new ecclesiastical parish of Cowley St. John had developed its own schools to meet the needs of the growing population. The first was that opened by the Cowley Fathers in 1867 as a higher-grade mixed school. (fn. 516) It was opened by Father Benson in a temporary wooden building in Princes Street, which had been erected as a ballroom for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1863. In 1871 a new boys' school was erected on the same site at a cost of £1,150, and in 1872 an infant school with accommodation for 200 was built and enlarged in 1898 to hold 236.
In 1880 a new girls' school was built on the other side of the Cowley Road. (fn. 517) This school continued as a higher-grade elementary school under the management of the Cowley Fathers until 1932, when it was reorganized as two separate secondary schools. The present school buildings date from the original foundation, but alterations were carried out in 1899–1902 and in 1931. (fn. 518) The school held independent status. (fn. 519)
The second school in Cowley St. John is the church school of St. Mary and St. John, Hertford Street. A boys' department was first opened in a temporary building in 1893, and in 1896 when the present buildings were completed it opened as a mixed school. (fn. 520) In 1899 three new rooms were added, and in 1902 a new infants' school was built on a nearby site. In 1932 this school became a junior and infant school and the younger children from St. John's school were transferred here. (fn. 521)
The later history of these schools is reserved for inclusion in a volume on Oxford city.
A school for poor boys was founded in 1855 in connexion with the Methodist chapel. (fn. 522) It did not apparently receive state grants.
Cowley College was first established by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education in 1841, 'for the benefit of the middle classes'. The first headmaster was J. M. C. Bennett. The old manor-house of Temple Cowley formed the nucleus of the buildings, and in 1870 a chapel was added. In 1852 a new large stone house was built nearby, with schoolrooms below and dormitories above. The school provided the normal public school education of the time. In 1876 the school buildings were sold to the Oxford Military Academy.
The Oxford Military Academy was opened in 1876 to prepare sons of officers for commissions in the services. New buildings were opened in 1878, and the school flourished for a time, with influential support from such patrons as the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Connaught. But many public schools were preparing candidates for the services by the nineties, and this school went bankrupt in 1896 and the site was sold in 1899. (fn. 523)
St. Kenelm's Anglican School in Temple Road was opened c. 1880, for about 40 pupils, and the first principal was the Revd. Henry Cruikshank, Chaplain of New College. He was succeeded in about 1890 by the Revd. Henry Mare. (fn. 524) The buildings of this school were used from 1906 until 1921 by the Capucin Franciscan Fathers and afterwards by the Salesian Congregation. (fn. 525)
The development of the above schools and the history of schools founded in Cowley after 1928 is reserved for treatment under the city of Oxford.
Thomas Westbrooke of Horspath, a shepherd, by his will dated 1630 gave £15 to the poor of Cowley with which a rent-charge was purchased. In 1825 the ringers were receiving 1s. a year on St. Thomas's day out of the 15s. rent and the remaining 14s. was regularly divided among the poor. (fn. 526) Francis Wastie, by will dated 1774, left £10, the annual interest on which was to be divided among four poor widows who did not receive parish relief. (fn. 527) In 1884 the Charity Commissioners' inspector reported that this charity had lapsed since 1853. (fn. 528) The vicar is now (1953) trustee of the Westbrooke and Wastie charities and has revived the custom of giving 1s. to the bell-ringer on St. Thomas's day. The remainder of the two charities is allowed to accumulate and is distributed in cases of need.
In 1738 the churchwardens held a sum of £5 of which the interest was paid annually to the poor. (fn. 529) This was presumably identical with an anonymous gift of £5 held in trust in 1786, of which the 5s. interest was said not to have been distributed since 1751. (fn. 530) It may also have been the same as 'Mrs. Wadnell's money', which seems to have been 5s. distributed annually to the poor by the hillsmen from 1766. (fn. 531) There is apparently no later record of this charity.
Vincent Phipps of Walton (Herts.), by will dated 1772, gave £1,000 to Christ's Hospital to provide a nomination by the respective ministers and churchwardens of a poor orphan alternately of the parishes of St. Mary Magdalen, Oxford, and of Cowley. The Charity Commissioners in 1840 found that although the hospital governors had received £700 in 1786 from the executors they had taken no action. (fn. 532) In 1887 the vestry complained that the Phipps and Wastie charities had lapsed. In 1889 a new Scheme was made and occasionally a boy or girl has been sent in for the Christ's Hospital Scholarship. (fn. 533) In the last 22 years the scholarship has been awarded once only.
Under the inclosure award of 1853 about 11 acres were set aside to compensate the inhabitants of the Cowleys and Hockmore Street for the loss of their right to cut bushes on Elder Stubbs. (fn. 534) The rents, worth £10 in 1877, were spent on bread for distribution to every householder at Christmas. Now (1953) known as the Elder Stubbs Charity, the money itself is distributed in Cowley St. John. The inclosure award also awarded 3 acres in Temple Cowley and 4 acres in Church Cowley, together valued at £5 6s. 8d. in 1867, as allotments for the poor. In 1884 (fn. 535) the allotment-holders refused to pay rent, but after an ejection order had been made by the Charity Commissioners, they agreed to pay in future and for the preceding year. By the terms of the trust any profits were to be invested in buying new land.
Before the Second World War Cowley St. James provided 2 cwt. of coal for every widow and widower at Christmas. At a vestry meeting of 1887 mention was made of a Parkin's Charity, which was worth £200. (fn. 536)