A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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The parish of Islip is situated on both banks of the River Ray near its confluence with the Cherwell. The area of the ancient parish was 1,997 acres. Under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882 one detached part of Noke (7 a.) was added to the parish of Islip for civil purposes, and another (5 a.) was added in 1932, giving an area in 1951 of 2,009 acres. (fn. 1) The rightangled turns of the present boundary between Islip and Hampton Poyle suggest that the line was drawn to follow the layout of arable strips already under cultivation; a date in the 12th century may be indicated. In the south-west corner of the parish the present boundary follows the line of the River Cherwell, and in the east a brook flowing into the Ray divides Islip and Oddington.
The ground in the centre of the parish rises sharply on both sides of the Ray and forms a ridge of high ground which runs the length of the parish and which rises to 330 feet in the south. This ridge is flanked on the east and west by ground which is low-lying and, in parts, liable to floods. Most of the north and west of the parish lies on either Oxford Clay or alluvium, but the village itself and the southeast of the parish are on an inlier of Cornbrash. (fn. 2) The soil is clay and stonebrash. (fn. 3)
Islip contains two stone-quarries, one north of the river and the other south of it. These pits supplied Cornbrash and Forest Marble. Both are now disused, but the former is still of scientific fame on account of its fossiliferous bed. Pratwell, or Prattle, Wood (30 a.), in the south-east of the parish, is the only survivor of the woods which covered the southern half of the parish in the early Middle Ages. Traces of their former extent were preserved until the parliamentary inclosure in the names Sart and Wood Hill and Plain, given respectively to the only open field south of the river and to the land adjoining it on the south-east; traces are still preserved in the names Upper and Lower Woods farms. (fn. 4)
The River Ray flows through the parish in an east-west direction; its bed was deepened early in the 19th century by the commissioners for the Otmoor Drainage Act. (fn. 5) A monopoly of fishing rights in Islip waters was granted by the Protector Cromwell to a local fisherman named Beckley as a reward for ferrying parliamentary troops across the Cherwell before the battle of Islip Bridge in 1645. (fn. 6) The fisheries continued to be valuable until the late 19th century and gave rise to the local industry of making osier cages or 'weels' for catching eels.
The Ray is spanned by a three-arched bridge in the village. It was formerly forded near this point. The present bridge, completed in 1878, (fn. 7) replaced an earlier, four-arched bridge of unknown date. (fn. 8) Until the 18th century Islip Bridge was used extensively only in the winter months, the customary route during the summer being that which lay over the ford. (fn. 9) In 1788, however, a turnpike was set up on the bridge and the road over the ford was closed by the Turnpike Trustees. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster, who were responsible ratione tenure for the upkeep of the bridge, claimed that the increased volume of traffic involved them in unprecedented expenses for repairs, and in 1816 unsuccessfully attempted to put the onus for repairs on the Turnpike Trustees or on the county. (fn. 10) Despite the allegations made by the dean and chapter it is almost certain that the total volume of traffic using the bridge declined sharply during this period. (fn. 11) Its foundations were endangered early in the 19th century by the increased volume of water passing under it as a result of the deepening of the river bed. The Otmoor Drainage Commissioners, therefore, although refusing to admit a legal obligation, contributed to the repair of two arches. (fn. 12) The construction of the present bridge necessitated widening the river. This was accomplished by the Thames Valley Drainage Commission at the expense of land belonging to the rectory. The rector was allowed £60 as compensation. (fn. 13) Part of the island opposite the Rectory was cut away at the same time.
The main road in the parish is the Wheatley road which crosses the Ray at Islip Bridge. This is a section of the old London to Worcester road on which Islip was formerly a coach and wagon station. The road was also used by traffic travelling from Buckingham and Bicester to Oxford in the winter months when the Cherwell was impassable at Gosford Bridge. Islip lost much of its traffic in the later 18th century: the wagon traffic was affected adversely by the opening of the Oxford Canal in 1790 and other traffic by the improvement of roads elsewhere in the county. In the early 19th century Vincent said that only the Bicester wagon still went regularly through the village and that most of Islip's coaches had been attracted to Oxford. (fn. 14) Islip Railway, a part of the extension of the London and Birmingham Railway from Bletchley to Oxford, was opened in 1850. (fn. 15) The extension was completed by the opening of the Islip to Oxford line in 1851. Between 1850 and 1851 passengers from Oxford wishing to connect with the Bletchley services were conveyed to Islip by horse omnibus. (fn. 16) The Dean and Chapter of Westminster, who had unsuccessfully opposed the bill sanctioning the railway, (fn. 17) received £2,310 from the company as compensation. (fn. 18)
Islip lies in the centre of the parish on the north bank of the River Ray. (fn. 19) The place-name consists of the old name of the Ray (Ight) and an Old English word, slæp, of which the precise meaning is unknown, but which may here denote a 'place where things are dragged'. (fn. 20) The date of settlement was probably Saxon: no prehistoric or Roman remains have been found here. The main village is grouped compactly on three sides of the church. The proximity of open arable fields limited expansion west of the church in the pre-inclosure village to a row of dwellings in Mill Street. This restriction no longer obtains, and the village was beginning to sprawl along the Kidlington road in the 1950's. The land immediately west of the church was acquired by the Parish Council and opened as the village playingfield in 1953.
Islip achieved importance in the 11th century because of its situation on the forest bounds. Most of the present village was built in the later 17th century and in the 18th century, but mention may be made of three medieval buildings which have now vanished: the court house which grew around Ethelred's residence, the so-called Confessor's chapel which stood near it, (fn. 21) and the second court house built in the early 14th century by William de Curtlington, Abbot of Westminster 1315–33. Curtlington's house occupied a site lower in the village, near the present Manor Farm. (fn. 22) Manor Farm itself, a two-storied, L-shaped building in Upper Street, dates from the 16th century, but was much refashioned in the 19th century. Its interior contains a little reused 17th-century panelling. The oldest building in the centre of the village, with the exception of the church, is a house in High Street, formerly the King's Head Inn, a coaching-station. This dates from the mid or late 17th century; most of the wall facing the road was rebuilt in 1950, but the wooden beam over the old entrance to the inn-yard was left in position. (fn. 23)
The Old Rectory is the most pleasing building in the village. It was built in 1689–90 for Dr. Robert South, Rector of Islip 1678–1716, on the site of an older house then in disrepair. (fn. 24) The date 1689 is on a rainwater-head. According to a tradition which is still current South built his Rectory on the village waste. (fn. 25) The house is a two-storied, rectangularshaped building of stone with attic dormers, sash windows, and two high-pitched roofs separated by a valley. The front doorway on the north elevation retains its original hood supported by carved brackets. Features of the interior of special interest are the 17th-century staircase and oak panelling of the same date in a room on the ground floor. The Rectory fell into disrepair in the 18th century, when Islip's rectors were non-resident. Dean Vincent, who secured the living in 1807 and determined to use the Rectory as his summer residence, spent over £2,000 on repairs. (fn. 26) The house was again restored in 1902. (fn. 27) Its upkeep proved a severe strain on the benefice, and in 1921 it was sold. Between 1921 and 1949 it was known as the Hall, but in the latter year it reverted to its original name. During the Second World War it was used as the sick bay for B.B.C. hostels at Weston and Bletchingdon. (fn. 28) An early engraving of the south elevation of the Rectory shows the house and gardens as they were in South's time. (fn. 29) A large tithe-barn stands in a corner of the Rectory premises. In the 19th century, and until 1952, this was used as the village hall. Its upkeep, however, remained a charge on the benefice. (fn. 30) In 1897 the rector, the Revd. T. W. Fowle, tried to end this anomalous situation by offering the barn to the parish council. In 1952 a new village hall was opened on a site northwest of the church, purchased from the Church Commissioners. The architect was Thomas Rayson of Oxford, the builder C. E. Turner of Marston. The cost was about £4,000. (fn. 31)
Islip now possesses only three inns—the 'Red Lion', the 'Swan', and the 'Saddlers' Arms'. Five former inns are now private houses: the 'Boot', the 'Britannia', the 'Fox and Grapes', the 'King's Head' (a coaching-station known latterly as the 'Coach and Horses'), and the 'Wooster Arms'. The last named stands at the corner of Mill Street and the Walk. The 'Red Lion' was also known as the 'Worcester Arms' for a period during the 18th century. (fn. 32) Little is known about the inns which have disappeared. The 'Prince's Arms', known latterly as the 'Plume of Feathers', stood opposite the 'Red Lion'. There is a local tradition that the materials used to build it came from the Confessor's chapel, which was demolished in about the year 1780. (fn. 33) Vincent speaks of the 'Feathers' as the house for gentry and the 'Red Lion' as the house for carriers. (fn. 34) The serious decline in the late 18th century of the coach and wagon traffic was the chief cause of the closing of Islip's inns. (fn. 35) Islip mill stands on the left bank of the Cherwell, before this river meets the waters of the Ray. The present mill was last used in 1949. (fn. 36) There has been a mill at Islip since the 11th century. It was valued in Domesday Book at 20s. (fn. 37) It was given by Adeline d'lvry to Bec Abbey in Normandy. (fn. 38) It was later secured by Westminster Abbey, almost certainly in 1203, when the manor itself was recovered. (fn. 39) Suit to the mill was obligatory for all customary tenants of the manor. (fn. 40) The rate at which molture was levied is not known. The mill was farmed after 1297. (fn. 41) A fulling mill was built at Islip in 1369; (fn. 42) it was farmed immediately. (fn. 43) In 1488 two water-mills were leased by the abbot and convent of Westminster to Nicholas Barton. (fn. 44) Sixteenth-century leases also mention two mills. (fn. 45) In 1231 licence was granted to the Abbot of Westminster to have one weaver at Islip; (fn. 46) this is the only evidence of cloth-making there. A market was granted at Islip in 1245. (fn. 47)
Of the outlying farms, Lower Woods, known locally as Leicester's, is of special interest. It dates from the 17th century, was restored in the 18th or 19th century, then became derelict, and has been rebuilt since 1946. (fn. 48) Chipping Farm derives its name from 12th-century chypfen, and perhaps from the O.E. cippa fenn, meaning 'a fen where logs are found'. (fn. 49)
Islip was of strategic importance in the Civil War because of its situation near the Cherwell, the outer defence line of the royalist garrison at Oxford. It was reconnoitred by a parliamentary force under Essex in 1643 and occupied by Essex in May 1644. (fn. 50) Later, the Dutch ambassadors waited on him here with proposals for mediation. (fn. 51) In 1645 royalist troops under Northampton again occupied Islip, and in April Cromwell routed Northampton in an engagement on Islip Bridge. (fn. 52) During the siege of Oxford in 1646 Islip was occupied for Parliament by Colonel Fleetwood. (fn. 53)
In July 1685, after Monmouth's rebellion, troops under Captain Finch of All Souls College, Oxford, were posted at Islip to secure the western approach to London. (fn. 54)
Edward the Confessor was born at Islip in 1004 and began the village's long connexion with Westminster Abbey. (fn. 55) Among persons having a slight connexion with the village may be mentioned Isabella, Edward II's queen, who spent some time here in 1325, (fn. 56) and John Islip, Abbot of Westminster 1500–32, who in all probability was born here.
The remaining worthies are the many men of distinction who have been presented to the living of Islip in post-Reformation times. These include Hugh Weston (rector 1554–8), a keen supporter of the Marian Reformation; (fn. 57) John Aglionby (1600– 11), Principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, and, according to Anthony Wood, a collaborator in the Authorized Version of the Bible; (fn. 58) Robert South (1678–1716), chaplain in ordinary to Charles II and a prolific writer in the High Church cause; (fn. 59) William Freind (1748–66), chaplain in ordinary to George II, and Dean of Canterbury; (fn. 60) three 19thcentury deans of Westminster—William Vincent (1807–15), who compiled a valuable history of Islip now in the Bodleian Library; (fn. 61) John Ireland (1816– 35); (fn. 62) and the eccentric William Buckland (1846– 56), a pioneer geologist; (fn. 63) and Francis Chenevix Trench (1857–75), a divine and author of some note in his own day. (fn. 64)
Peter Heylyn, the partisan and biographer of Archbishop Laud, was presented to the living of Islip in 1638, but exchanged it immediately. (fn. 65) Jonathan Swift desired, but did not secure, the living. (fn. 66)
Edward the Confessor is alleged to have given Islip to his new foundation of St. Peter at Westminster at the dedication of the church in 1065. (fn. 67) Copies are extant of two vernacular writs which notify Wulfwig, Bishop of Dorchester, Earl Gyrth and all the thegns of Oxfordshire of the king's gift of his birthplace, Islip, to Westminster, but the abbey failed to obtain possession before the Conquest. (fn. 68) Although the writs are of doubtful authenticity, their language proves that Westminster was claiming Islip very soon after the Conquest, probably before 1071. (fn. 69) The substance of the abbey's claim was probably true, for the Confessor's gift of his birthplace would have been the fitting culmination of his lavish endowments. Domesday Book records that Godric and Alwin had held Islip freely T.R.E., but makes no mention of Westminster's claim. (fn. 70) In 1086 Islip was held by Adeline, wife of Roger d'lvry and daughter of Hugh de Grantmesnil, in commendatione—a phrase which may imply temporary tenure pending investigation of Westminster's case. (fn. 71) The manor had no doubt been given to Hugh by William I, and by Hugh to Adeline as part of her marriage portion.
Adeline outlived her husband and died between May 1110 and May 1111, that is within a year of giving a hide in Fencott, a member of Islip manor, to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 72) Her gift was confirmed at her death by her daughter Adelize, who may have inherited Islip. (fn. 73) How and when Islip passed to the De Courcy family is uncertain. It is unlikely that it reverted to the Grantmesnils after Adelize's death, and eventually passed to the De Courcys as their heirs, although the families were connected by marriage. (fn. 74) The Grantmesnil lands in England descended to Ives, fourth son of Hugh, and from him passed to Robert de Beaumont, later becoming part of the honor of Leicester, with which Islip was never associated. (fn. 75)
The De Courcys of Islip belonged to the Norman branch of that family and descended from Robert, elder son of Richard de Courcy, lord of Curci-surDives and Domesday tenant of Nuneham Courtenay, Sarsden, and Foscot in Idbury. (fn. 76) Robert's successor Robert, his eldest son by Rose de Grantmesnil, was probably the Robert de Courcy who was dapifer to Henry I and later dapifer and justiciar to Geoffrey of Anjou, and may have been the Robert killed in Wales in 1157. (fn. 77) Robert's heir William, probably his son, became justiciar to Henry II and died in 1176. (fn. 78) A William de Courcy paid scutage for Islip in 1165 and held the manor at his death in 1186. (fn. 79) Later evidence shows that William had a brother Robert, dapifer regis, (fn. 80) and suggests that they were sons of William the justiciar, and that Robert died without issue. (fn. 81)
Beside Islip, William (d. 1186) held a group of Hampshire manors, of which Catherington and Clanfield belonged to the honor of Arundel, and Farlington and Bilsington had a tenuous connexion with that honor. (fn. 82) Warblington, which William held in chief, had been part of the honor as forfeited by Robert of Belléme in 1102, and may well have been detached from the honor while it was in the king's hands (1102–38). (fn. 83) If Henry I created in this period a small English honor for his Norman dapifer Robert, elder son of Robert de Courcy, it may well have included Islip as well as Warblington. William de Courcy was succeeded at Islip by his son Robert, who although not a minor was not granted his English lands until 1189. (fn. 84) Robert appears to have enfeoffed another William, probably his brother, with Islip, for in 1203 a William de Courcy took the homage of a tenant of the manor. (fn. 85) Robert, however, joined Philip Augustus of France in 1203, and the family forfeited its English lands. (fn. 86)
Copies survive of a spurious writ in which Henry I declares that he has restored to Westminster Abbey certain lands, including Islip, which [Ranulf] the chancellor held of it. (fn. 87) Westminster had a clear title to other lands mentioned in the writ, but as far as Islip is concerned it should be regarded as a clever attempt to use Ranulf's acknowledged spoliation of the church as a pretext for securing a manor to which the abbey's title was still in doubt. There is no evidence that Westminister ever held Islip in the 12th century, but in 1203 after the De Courcys' forfeiture the abbey renewed its claim with success —although the documents produced in its support were forgeries. (fn. 88) The nature of Islip's connexion with Westminster remained obscure: in 1279 the abbot was said to hold the manor in chief in free alms 'de dono Regis Anglie, sed de quo Rege nescitur', and in 1284 he was said to hold per baroniam. (fn. 89) In 1446 it was established that the abbey held Islip of Edward the Confessor's gift on the condition of maintaining a chaplain to celebrate daily masses in St. Edward's chapel for the souls of King Edward, his ancestors and successors. (fn. 90)
Islip was assigned to the abbot's portion at Westminster. In May 1216 the manor was seized by King John upon a false report of the death of Abbot William de Humez. John committed the manor to Hugh de Lusignan, (fn. 91) but in December of the same year Henry III ordered its restitution to the abbot. (fn. 92)
In 1299 Islip manor, with all appurtenances except the advowson and franchisal jurisdiction, together with two liveries a year from Todenham (Glos.), was granted to William de Dernford, knight, and Cecily his wife, to hold during their lives, in exchange for the manor of Deerhurst (Glos.) and a fourth part of the hundred of Deerhurst, these properties being then held by the Dernfords of the abbot and convent in fee farm. (fn. 93) Abbot Walter de Wenlok's purpose in making this exchange was to recover a valuable manor let at fee farm by his improvident predecessor, Gervase de Blois, abbot 1137–57. (fn. 94) The Dernfords held Islip until about 1327. Cecily outlived William, remarried in or before 1316, (fn. 95) and died before 1328. (fn. 96) The series of ministers' accounts extant in the Abbey Muniment Room is resumed in 1327.
Islip was sequestrated on the surrender of Westminster Abbey in January 1540. (fn. 97) In August 1542 it was granted to the dean and chapter of the newly constituted cathedral church at Westminster. (fn. 98) In 1556 it was surrendered to the Crown and granted to the abbot and convent of the restored monastic foundation. (fn. 99) Finally, in 1560, it was again surrendered, and granted to the dean and chapter of the collegiate church constituted at Westminster by Elizabeth I. (fn. 100)
In November 1645 a committee of Lords and Commons was set up to administer the lands and revenues of the 'delinquent' Dean and Chapter of Westminster. (fn. 101) In April 1649 the lands and revenues of all deans and chapters were vested in a body of trustees appointed by the Commons. (fn. 102) Islip came under the provisions of both these acts. In September 1649, however, the manor was exempted from the operation of the latter act and assigned to the maintenance of Westminster School. (fn. 103) In December 1650 the manor was sold to Colonel Fielder and John Staunton for £4,736 5s. 2d. (fn. 104) In 1660 it was restored to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, now reinstated. It remained in their hands until 1869, when ownership was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 105)
It was the policy of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster to lease the manor. The following list gives the date of each lease, the name of the lessee(s) and the term of years: the rent per annum was in all cases £54 19s. 4d. No information is available concerning fines paid:
1549, Edward, Duke of Somerset, 99 yrs.; (fn. 106) 1634, Henry Norris and George Willis, 21 yrs.; (fn. 107) 1634, George Willis and John Banks, 21 yrs.; (fn. 108) 1641, John Banks and Thomas Gilder, 21 yrs.; (fn. 109) 1660, Sir Thomas Tipping, 19 yrs.; (fn. 110) 1663, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 111) 1666, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 112) 1673, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 113) 1680, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 114) 1687, Sir John Doyley, 21 yrs.; (fn. 115) 1694, idem; (fn. 116) 1701, Revd. Timothy Halton, Provost of the Queen's College, Oxford, and Revd. Richard Davies of Sapperton (Glos.), 21 yrs.; (fn. 117) 1708, Revd. George Carter, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, and Francis Nourse of Wood Eaton, 21 yrs.; (fn. 118) 1716, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 119) 1723, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 120) 1730, Revd. Richard Ibbetson of Lambeth, and Francis Nourse, 21 yrs.; (fn. 121) 1737, John Nourse and Thomas Trollope, 21 yrs.; (fn. 122) 1744, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 123) 1751, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 124) 1758, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 125) 1765, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 126) 1772, Harriett Browne, 21 yrs.; (fn. 127) 1779, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 128) 1786, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 129) 1793, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 130) 1801, Revd. George Worsley, the estate of Edward Worsley, lunatic, 21 yrs.; (fn. 131) 1808, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 132) 1814, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 133) 1823, William Worsley for Edward Worsley, 21 yrs.; (fn. 134) 1829, idem, 21 yrs.; (fn. 135) 1836, John Pinfold, assign of William and Frances Worsley, administratrix of Edward Worsley, 21 yrs.; (fn. 136) 1843, idem, 21 yrs. (fn. 137)
No manorial extent survives. The following valuations are given in Domesday Book: T.R.E. £7; 1066, £8; 1086, £10. (fn. 138) The manor, including the mill and perquisites of the court, is valued at £17 9s. in 1291 and at £53 10s. 1d. in 1535. (fn. 139) The manor with appurtenances is valued at £40 4s. ultra reprisis in an inquisition of 1446. (fn. 140)
In 1086 there were six teamlands under cultivation at Islip. (fn. 141) In 1806 the tillage consisted of six open fields, containing about 1,200 acres. (fn. 142) The arable reached its medieval limits in the 13th century. In the 14th century the demesne began to disintegrate, and two visitations of the plague, in 1348–9 and 1361–2 respectively, caused temporary reductions in the area of tenant land under cultivation. (fn. 143) These two decades of instability were followed by 40 years during which the area under cultivation fluctuated little, only two or three small holdings being vacant each year. After 1400, however, vacant holdings greatly increased in number. (fn. 144) The rental of 1435, when compared with the custumal of 1390, shows a decrease of about 100 acres in the area of tenant land cultivated. (fn. 145) Moreover, many holdings in nominal occupation were waste, having been taken primarily for the pasture rights appurtenant to them.
In 1806, on the eve of the parliamentary inclosure, there were six open fields: the North (235 a.), East (113 a.), Lankott (156 a.), Brought (261 a.), and Mill (210 a.) Fields north of the river; Sart Field (about 200 a.) south of the river. (fn. 146) Only four of these field names occur in medieval records: North Field in 1379, (fn. 147) East Field in 1421, (fn. 148) Sart Field and Lankott repeatedly in 14th-century accounts. (fn. 149) A West Field is mentioned in a late 13thcentury charter and again in 1445. (fn. 150) A terrier of the Islip glebe drawn up in 1634 mentions five arable fields: the West, West Chadgrove, Langiott, and East Fields, and Wood Eaton Field (probably Sart Field). (fn. 151) The first reference to Brought Field occurs in 1655. (fn. 152)
The field system of medieval Islip is a matter for conjecture. The original fields lay north of the river, and it seems probable that the East, North, and Lankott Fields (504 a. in all) and the Brought and Mill Fields (471 a.) represent respectively the east and west fields of the early medieval village. The evidence is scanty and inconclusive but suggests that the original east and west fields were divided in the course of the 13th century into the North, East, and West Fields and a fourth field known in the early 17th century as the West Chadgrove Field and later as Brought Field. (fn. 153) Sart Field came under cultivation in the 12th or 13th century. Lankott was a separate section of the arable by the 14th century and may represent an adjustment necessitated by assarting south of the river. Islip's six fields do not seem to be a variant of a normal three-field arrangement. (fn. 154)
The common pastures in medieval Islip were Holme Common and the Cow Pasture. The former may be identified with the meadow 30 acres in extent mentioned in Domesday Book; the latter with the Domesday pasture 3 furlongs long and 2 broad; by 1806 this pasture was about 154 acres in extent and its extreme measurements had almost doubled. Pasture in the stubble fields was stinted by common assent at 4 beasts per virgate, 2 per half-virgate, and 1 per cottage. (fn. 155) Each virgater had faldage for 80 sheep on the fallow, each half-virgater faldage for 40 sheep, and other tenants proportionately. (fn. 156) The tenants of Islip claimed common in the fields of Arncot in alternate years. (fn. 157) Each half-virgater had, in addition, free agistment for one pig in the abbot's wood and agistment for others on payment of pannage. (fn. 158) These facilities became inadequate in the later Middle Ages, largely as a result of the development of large-scale peasant sheep-farming By the 16th century the freeholders and copyholders of Islip had established prescriptive rights of common in Islip Wood. In 1622 they were finally allotted Wood Hill and Plain as an extra cowpasture. (fn. 159) Part of West Field seems to have been adopted as common meadow in the 17th century. References to a west meadow occur from this date, and a reference in 1684 to a 'lay of grasse ground' in Mill Field suggests its identity with this part of the arable. (fn. 160) Reference is made in the 18th century to a Reed Meadow. (fn. 161) In addition to these permanent meadows, Lammas lands were set apart from time to time within the different arable fields. (fn. 162)
Woods were a prominent feature of the preinclosure parish. Domesday Book records the existence of a wood 1 league long and ½ league in breadth. (fn. 163) That part of the parish which lies south of the Ray (997 acres), measured at its extremities, is approximately 2 miles long and 1½ miles in breadth and is undoubtedly the site of this wood. Islip Wood was known in the Middle Ages as Cauda Aliz. It was affected by the struggle for disafforestment in the 13th century; in 1233 and in 1279 it was described as part of the royal forest; (fn. 164) in 1298 the wood was disafforested, (fn. 165) but here, as elsewhere, the perambulation was a dead letter. (fn. 166) The wood was finally disafforested in Edward III's reign: in 1337 it was held to be of the ancient demesne of the king and outside the forest. (fn. 167) The disafforestment deprived Islip of the common rights of a forest vill. In the 14th and 15th centuries the vill paid fines for agistment in the forest. (fn. 168) In the 17th century the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, as lords of Islip manor, were allotted 20 acres in the forest of Shotover and Stowood in satisfaction of all claims to common therein. (fn. 169)
Three processes combined to strip Islip of its woods: assarting for arable, encroachment for commons, and spoliation for timber. Assarting brought about 200 acres under tillage (i.e. Sart Field) by the 14th century. The only recorded assart was made in exceptional circumstances when, in 1233, the Abbot of Westminster obtained licence to assart 10½ acres which had been wasted by Hugh de Lusignan during his brief tenure of the manor in 1216. (fn. 170)
Encroachment on the woods for pasture began in the 14th century. Until this date the only right which customary tenants enjoyed there was that of agistment for swine. (fn. 171) Shortage of pasture led to the usurpation of more extensive rights in the later Middle Ages. By the 16th century rights of common for sheep between 29 September and 3 May had been established in Islip Wood by four vills, Islip itself, Beckley, Noke, and Wood Eaton. Tenants of Islip and Noke had common in the wood as a whole and shared the responsibility of fencing Sart on the Wood Hill side before Ascension Day each year. The vills of Beckley and Wood Eaton enjoyed limited rights between 29 September and 25 March in Hazelbed and Old Sale, two coppices which formed part of the area later known as Lower Woods. (fn. 172)
The woods were used indiscriminately, however, as pasture for all beasts. Accordingly, in or about the year 1611 the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, as lords of the manor, with Henry Norris and Thomas Gilder, their farmers, and Benedict Winchcombe, lord of Noke manor, on the one part, and the freeholders and customaries of Islip and Noke on the other part, agreed to inclose the woods and waste of Islip and apportion pasture to each party in severalty. A Chancery decision confirmed the original agreement in 1620. (fn. 173) Further representations from a few customary tenants resulted in a new settlement in Chancery in 1622. (fn. 174) The original agreement made the following allotments: to the freeholders and copyholders of Islip, Wood Hill and Leyside (about 120 a.); to the freeholders and copyholders of Noke, a portion of the soil of Islip in area five-twelfths of the allotment made to the tenants of Islip (57 a. in Lower Woods were allotted); to the lords of Islip manor, Horse Coppice and Hazelbeds, in Lower Woods; to the lord of Noke manor, Noke Wood, a parcel of ground lying between Noke Wood and Lower Woods, and that part of Prattle Wood which lay within Noke Parish. The remaining woods and waste in Islip and Noke (about 400 a. in extent) were to continue in common, saving to the farmer of Islip the right to inclose a fourth part of the woods. It appears to have been in accordance with this provision that Prattle Wood was later inclosed. The final agreement preserved these arrangements unchanged, but allowed freeholders and copyholders of Islip who so desired to inclose and hold in severalty their allotments in Wood Hill and Leyside. No provision was made for the vills of Beckley and Wood Eaton; their rights in Islip Wood were thus extinguished.
Spoliation of the woods for timber became a serious problem in the 18th century. Little is known about estovers before this date. Only two medieval customs are known: customary tenants of the manor paid 2 eggs and a hen for the right to collect dead wood; (fn. 175) the tenant of that part of Noke which was not of the Westminster fee paid 2s. 6d. a year to the Abbot of Westminster for husbote and heybot in Islip Wood. (fn. 176) In 1612 certain copyholders of Islip claimed the customary right to have the lop and top of the trees on their estates and timber for repairs. (fn. 177) Manorial customs dating from the late 17th century allow copyholders the lop and top of all timber trees and timber for repairs if any grow on their premises. (fn. 178) The latter stipulation was widely disregarded in the 18th century. In 1797 Richard Davis reported that 'sad havoc' had been wrought particularly on Wood Hill and in the plantation adjoining Wood Eaton parish. (fn. 179) Davis's estimates of the number of trees still standing show that Islip was now only thinly wooded. All traces of the Domesday extent of woodland disappeared finally in 1806, when, with the exception of Prattle Wood, most of the trees in the parish were felled as a preliminary to inclosure of the arable. (fn. 180)
In 1279 the Abbot of Westminster had at Islip four carucates in demesne. (fn. 181) Estimates of demesne tillage based on information given in the ministers' accounts give a figure of about 480 acres for its extent in the late 13th century. The demesne was scattered in the open fields of Islip, Murcott, and Fencott, but most of it lay in the vill of Islip and in shots rather than in small strips. It is in this sense that the first lease of the demesne, in 1395, speaks of omnes campos de terris dominicis. (fn. 182) Leasing of demesne acres began in 1331. (fn. 183) By 1391 about 50 acres had been leased piecemeal. (fn. 184) Disintegration in this manner was checked in 1360 by an agreement between the Abbot of Westminster and the reeve of Islip, whereby the latter undertook the cultivation of the arable demesne and the management of the demesne pigs in return for half the yearly crop yield. (fn. 185) After a short resumption of full demesne cultivation between 1389 and 1395, a twelve years' lease of the arable demesne was made in 1395. (fn. 186) By 1400 the whole demesne, inclusive of pasture, had been leased for £15 a year. (fn. 187) By 1450 the rent had fallen to £7 3s. 4d. a year. (fn. 188) Most lessees of the demesne were half-virgaters. Joint leases by as many as ten tenants occur in the 15th century. Two phases in demesne cultivation are discernible: intensive exploitation of the arable in the 13th century, and a second phase, beginning about 1340, in which stock farming became an important, though still subsidiary, feature of manorial economy. The development of stock farming brought little change in the disposition of the demesne between arable and pasture. The emphasis was on pigs and on wool production. The former fed on the woods and waste. The latter was introduced on a modest scale: the number of sheep clipped yearly varied between 125 and 310; (fn. 189) and the estimated proceeds never rose above £13. (fn. 190) The chief interest of demesne sheep farming at Islip is its organization on an extramanorial basis under an itinerant supervisor bidentium. (fn. 191) Corn sales and the provision of corn for the abbot's hospice remained the chief objects of demesne cultivation until the end. Corn sales appear to have been made locally. The demesne was cultivated by famuli and by customary labour. Weekwork, consisting of five days' work a fortnight per half-virgate, was commuted in the 13th century by an option which demanded 3s. rent a year per halfvirgate. Between 1276 and 1298 work was demanded from 20 or 30 villeins between 24 June and 29 September, and from about 10 villeins during the remainder of the year. (fn. 192) Between 1327 and 1349 it was demanded from 27 to 29 villeins (nearly all the halfvirgaters in the vill) for the whole of the year. (fn. 193) Immediately after the plague of 1348–9 all weekwork was commuted, the rent per half-virgate being raised to 5s. 5d. a year. (fn. 194) By 1357 half the work due in the harvest season had been reimposed, (fn. 195) but later, probably in 1386, all week-work was permanently commuted and the rent per half-virgate was fixed at 6s. a year. (fn. 196) Boon works (demanded in full until 1349) were depleted by the farming of customary holdings after that date. (fn. 197) By 1390 225 of the 811½ boons due each year had been lost by farming. For less than half the acres sown in 1390–1 was customary labour used. (fn. 198)
In 1612 the customs of the manor were in dispute between Westminster's farmers and seven copyholders. (fn. 199) The questions in dispute were the grant of copyholds in reversion over the heads of the tenants in possession, the incidence of heriot in cases of forfeiture, the right of copyholders to grant short sub-leases, the privileges of the executors' year, and the timber rights of copyholders. Statements of manorial customs surviving from the late 17th century show that the main contentions of the defendants on this occasion were allowed. In the later 17th century and in the 18th century customs were recited at the triennial manorial courts. An executors' year was allowed on copyholds and widows' estates in the following terms: if the tenant died after Lady Day and before Michaelmas, the executor to enjoy two crops and the premises for a year and a day; if after Michaelmas and before Lady Day, the executor to enjoy a year's profits except the fallow and fallow meadow. No copyhold reversion was to be granted over the heads of the tenants in possession. (fn. 200)
Freehold tenure appeared at Islip in the period 1086–1279. (fn. 201) The only feoffment for which evidence survives is the grant of a half-virgate in fee to one William de Throp' about 1295 pro laudabili servicio. (fn. 202) In 1279 there were four freeholders in the vill of Islip, holding between them 3½ virgates. (fn. 203) In 1391 four freeholders held 3 virgates 2 acres and some demesne acres. (fn. 204) In 1435 three freeholders held between them little more than 2 virgates and one cottage. (fn. 205) All freehold was engrossed in the 15th century by a tenant named Wymbush. (fn. 206)
Much more is known about the development of tenure in villeinage. In 1086 there were at Islip 10 villeins (villani) and 5 bordars. (fn. 207) In 1279 the Hundred Rolls name two joint tenants of a virgate and 32 half-virgaters, but a near contemporary rental names 55 tenants in addition to the freeholders; seventeen of these appear to hold less than half a virgate each. (fn. 208) In 1391 there were 12 half-virgaters, 15 cottars, 9 leaseholders, and 15 tenants of composite holdings; (fn. 209) in 1435, 9 half-virgaters, 15 cottars, and 18 tenants of composite holdings. (fn. 210) The rental of about 1540 names 8 half-virgaters, 7 cottars, and 7 tenants of composite holdings in Islip, but this document appears to be a hasty compilation, possibly incomplete; (fn. 211) the lay subsidy roll of 1524 names no less than 43 persons in Islip with goods to the value of 20s. or more, (fn. 212) and it therefore seems unlikely that only sixteen years later there were only 22 landholders in the village. By the 14th century tallage had become the only practical test of unfree tenure. (fn. 213) This it remained until 1433, when it was assimilated to the ordinary rents of assize. (fn. 214)
Three important changes occurred in the 14th century. In the first place, the half-virgater ceased to be the typical customary tenant. In the period from about 1279 to 1391, when the total number of customary tenants altered very little, the number of half-virgaters decreased from over 30 to 12. Secondly, leasehold tenure developed. The origin of leasehold —the term being used here to denote a conveyance for a term of years and exempt from entry fine—lies in the farming of villein holdings for money rents, tallage, and light services which began in the decade after the Black Death. By 1391 thirteen half-virgates were farmed. (fn. 215) Many of the farms were at first tenancies at will, granted 'quousque aliquis alius venerit qui dictum tenementum voluerit tenere secundum consuetudinem manerii'. (fn. 216) This hope was rarely fulfilled: only one of the half-virgates farmed in 1391 is known to have been taken again ad antiqua servicia. Some farms were later converted into leases proper. It was by the grant of farms and leaseholds that the Abbot of Westminster kept all land in Islip under cultivation in the late 14th century. Thirdly, composite holdings appeared. This development is closely connected with the appearance of leasehold: of fifteen composite holdings in 1391, eleven included lands held at farm. (fn. 217) The nucleus of nearly all these holdings was a customary half-virgate. The composite holding of the 14th century was a temporary construction liable to rapid dispersal. Only five names are common to the lists of the tenants of such holdings in 1391 and 1435, and in no instance are the holdings identical. Such holdings remained an unstable feature of the manorial structure until the development of copyhold.
The development of copyhold was the most important feature of tenurial history in the 15th century. Commutation of week work, completed about 1386, (fn. 218) had been the first step in the process. The change was completed by the acceptance of the court rolls as registers of the title and by the permission of formal reversions. (fn. 219) Copies for three lives were granted occasionally. The advantage which copyhold offered was not security, but heritability. Composite holdings, consisting of tenements acquired gradually and often held by different tenures, tended to be dispersed on the death of their tenants. Copyhold made an heritable title readily available. It became common for tenants of composite holdings to surrender their lands and secure readmittance with reversion for two or three lives.
The transition to copyhold took place against a background of depopulation. (fn. 220) Vacancies became common after 1400; in 1426, for instance, eight half-virgates and ten cottages were vacant. (fn. 221) Vacancies on a disastrous scale could be prevented only by reducing or waiving the remaining incidents of customary tenure, in particular heriot and entry fine. This the Abbot of Westminster was slow to do. In the 14th century the comprehensive fine for heriot and entry in respect of a half-virgate was often 2 marks, (fn. 222) and this high level obtained in the opening decades of the 15th century. The same conservatism is shown in a reluctance to grant leases, the essence of which was immunity from heriot and entry fine. Occasional leases for varying terms were granted throughout the 15th century, but they are few in number. A change of policy began in the third decade of the century. It is interesting to speculate on its connexion with the change in the abbacy which occurred in 1420. (fn. 223) The new policy shows itself in the occasional remission of heriot, entry fine, and the first year's rent if the tenement taken by the incoming tenant was waste, and by a general reduction in the fines which were not remitted. With the exception of those paid for composite holdings, heriot and entry fines were often nominal. Only 1 capon, for instance, was taken for each of 4 tofts and half-virgates to which tenants were admitted on 20 October 1446. (fn. 224)
Despite the development of copyhold reversions, the peasant aristocracy of 15th-century Islip failed to consolidate its position. Only one of the larger holdings in existence at the beginning of the century is known to have survived for more than two or three generations. This, the holding built up by Thomas Stevens in the late 14th century, is last mentioned in 1465. (fn. 225) Only two of the persons of substance mentioned in the lay subsidy roll of 1524 or the rental of 1540 can be identified with a family mentioned in the rental of 1435. In 1524 a Thomas Cowper was assessed at £4 and a Richard Cowper at £3; (fn. 226) in 1540 Thomas Cowper held a messuage and half-virgate at will, and Richard Cowper held a messuage and virgate and half-virgate on a copy for three lives. (fn. 227) The rental of 1435 mentions an Agnes Cowper who held a messuage and half-virgate and a toft. (fn. 228) The instability of the peasant aristocracy of the later Middle Ages is reflected in the absence of an indigenous gentry at Islip in the 16th and 17th centuries, and, indeed, in the comparatively short histories of the oldest families in modern Islip. None of the names now current, Beckley, Stopp, Clarke, Neale, Miles, or Beesley, can be traced beyond the 17th century.
The medieval arable at Islip contained only one close of any importance, a plot of 3½ to 5 acres lying in Brought Field and called Conyger, which was inclosed by Richard de Ware, Abbot of Westminster (1258–83). (fn. 229) In 1356 the Abbot of Westminster complained that certain persons had broken his close at Islip and felled the trees in his wood there. (fn. 230) The reference here may be to a close on a plot of 10½ acres assarted in the 13th century in Cauda Altz. (fn. 231) The first large-scale inclosures took place in the early 17th century, but affected woods and pastures only. (fn. 232) Later in the century, in 1692, the dean and chapter complained of unauthorized inclosures by certain inhabitants of the parish, but no further trace of these inclosures survives. (fn. 233) The parliamentary inclosure of the open fields was authorized by an act of 1804. The inclosure award was made in 1808. (fn. 234) The principal allotments were made to the dean and chapter (376 a.) and their lessee, Edward Worsley, and to John Weyland (200 a.) of Wood Eaton. James Smith was allotted III acres and three others between 107 and 85 acres. Thirty-four persons had less than 30 acres. The inclosure survey resulted in the introduction of the statute acre at Islip; this replaced a customary acre equivalent to about five-sixths of the statute measure. (fn. 235)
In 1086 seventeen persons are mentioned at Islip. (fn. 236) There were about 60 landholders in the late 13th century, 55 in 1391, and 45 in 1435. (fn. 237) The proportion of the population holding land in 1391, however, was almost certainly larger than the proportion holding land in 1279. The Black Death probably provided the first check to the slow growth of population after 1086: 27 heriots were paid in the manorial year 1348–9; 11 of the 17 villeins owing chevage died, and 9 half-virgates and 7 cottages were still vacant in 1351. (fn. 238) A further spate of vacancies in the manorial year 1362–3 (five half-virgates) suggests a second visitation of the plague in 1361 or 1362. (fn. 239) There are signs of depopulation in the early 15th century, among them flight of villeins and a great increase in chevage payments. (fn. 240) In 1523 48 persons were assessed for the lay subsidy and the total assessment was £6 2s. 10d.; the figures in 1524 were 43 and £5 18s. 6d. (fn. 241) The Compton Census (1676) recorded 207 adults. Returns to episcopal visitations give the number of families or houses as about 100 in 1738, 120 in 1759, 140 in 1768, and 120 in 1771. (fn. 242) The figure returned in 1801 was 557. The population had risen to 655 by 1821 and to 744 in 1851, but declined in the later years of the century. (fn. 243) The figure returned in 1951 was 586. (fn. 244)
The benefice is a rectory formerly in the rural deanery of Bicester but which by 1854 had been transferred to the new deanery of Islip. (fn. 245)
According to tradition there was a church at Islip in the early 11th century in which Edward the Confessor was baptized. Gervase de Blois, Abbot of Westminster 1137–57, granted the church at Islip to Helias, decanus, in return for half a mark of silver a year. (fn. 246) Between 1203 and 1869 the descent of the advowson followed the descent of the manor. The advowson remained with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster after the transfer of the manor to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1869. In 1531 the next presentation was granted to Nicholas Townley, clerk, and to Thomas Cromwell. (fn. 247) In 1590 the advowson was granted for 21 years to John Lloyd, advocate of the Court of Arches, to the use of Hugh Lloyd, LL.D., who was presented to the living in the same year. (fn. 248) In 1632 the next presentation was granted to William Raynton of Eaton Hastings (Berks.), to the use of Peter Heylyn. (fn. 249) Heylyn secured the living in 1638. In 1646 the committee of lords and commons for the revenues of the lands belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster presented Edward Hinton to the living. (fn. 250)
The rectory was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1254, at £10 13s. 4d. in 1291, and at £17 4s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 251) In 1807, at the time of the inclosure survey, it was reported that Islip contained 1,914 titheable acres, inclusive of 29 acres of glebe. (fn. 252) The tithes were valued at £449 1s. after inclosure, the glebe at £54 19s. The valuer reported that Islip could bear an increase on the existing rate (5s. 6d.), but the rector was unwilling to encounter the ill will which such a rise would cause. (fn. 253) Tithes were commuted in 1843. According to the agreement there were 1,940 titheable acres in the parish, inclusive of the glebe, of 7 acres of Noke glebe lying in the parish, and of 64 acres in Islip titheable to Noke. (fn. 254) Tithes payable to the Rector of Islip were commuted for £492 10s. a year inclusive of tithe from the Islip glebe. A rent charge of £16 a year was allotted to the Rector of Noke in lieu of his tithes in Islip. The intermixture of the tithes of Islip and Noke had long caused ill feeling between the two parishes. (fn. 255) Vincent noted that Islip had tithe in Noke to the value of about £30 'so intermingled that it can be described by the terrier only'. (fn. 256) The earliest extant terrier of glebe land, 1634, details 35 acres of glebe. (fn. 257) The decrease to 29 acres in 1807 is to be accounted for by the adoption of the larger statute acre. (fn. 258)
The living was held during the Commonwealth and Protectorate by Edward Hinton, a covenanter who, however, conformed at the Restoration. (fn. 259) Many of the post-Reformation incumbents have been men of unusual distinction. (fn. 260) Eighteenth-century rectors and parishioners were of average zeal and piety. The visitation return of 1738 records that the sacrament was administered six times a year to a 'large number' of communicants, that public service was held twice every Sunday, and that prayers were said on holy days. The rector was non-resident, but a curate was to be appointed shortly. By 1759 a curate had been appointed, but the sacrament was administered only four times a year. The number of communicants grew from 'perhaps 30' in 1759 to 'about 40' in 1771 and to '60 or 70' in 1808. Throughout the century the persistent absence from church of' several persons of low rank' is noted, but this is attributed to ignorance or vice, not to dissent. (fn. 261) Richard Cope, rector 1767–1806, was continuously non-resident, (fn. 262) but his successor William Vincent (1807–15) resided for six months of every year, and in this he was followed by his successors. (fn. 263) In the early 19th century the living was held by the deans of Westminister, of whom Vincent was one, who used Islip as their country seat. The parish is now served by the rector.
The parish church of ST. NICHOLAS consists of a chancel, a nave of three bays, north and south aisles with separate pitched roofs, a western tower, and a south porch. Much of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century, but traces of the 12th-century church can be seen in the massive piers and arches which separate the north aisle from the nave, and at the west end of the south aisle, where a single roundheaded window survives. The responds of the chancel arch appear to date from the 13th century, but the arch itself was rebuilt in the 14th century. The arcade on the south side of the nave was also rebuilt early in the 14th century, and most of the surviving medieval windows date from the same period. The lofty tower of three stories, with a parapet and crocketed pinnacles, is largely 15th-century work. The chancel was damaged during the fighting at Islip in 1645 and the rector, Dr. Robert South, built a large new one in 1680 at his own expense. (fn. 264) It was built in a 17th-century Gothic style by Richard Varney, a local mason. (fn. 265) All the windows, including the large east one, had round heads and simple tracery; the roof was low-pitched and the ceiling open except for the eastern bay over the altar, where there was a richly painted plaster ceiling. (fn. 266) The fittings installed by South included the oak communion table, now in the Lady Chapel, the credence table, now by the high altar, and, in the nave, a lectern and pulpit which were swept away at the 19thcentury restoration. (fn. 267) South also erected a gallery in front of the tower opening.
In 1770 Gough described the church as 'a plain building of ragstone with a chancel, nave and two gabell'd aisles and a square west tower'. (fn. 268) In 1803 the artist David Cox painted the church; his picture shows no tower, but it is difficult to account for this omission except as artistic licence. (fn. 269)
The church was ruthlessly restored in 1861 by E. G. Bruton (builder G. Wyatt of Oxford), and it is Bruton's work which now dominates the whole interior, Bruton removed the gallery, threw open the tower arch, and gave the church a new roof, a new porch, and new fittings. South's chancel was reroofed, its style transformed into geometrical, and its 17th-century fittings swept away. The wallpaintings were plastered over. Bruton's restoration cost about £2,000, of which more than half was paid by John Parsons, the banker, of Oxford. Few will echo the verdict of the Revd. F. Chenevix Trench, then rector, that it had been' a very successful undertaking'. (fn. 270) The church was restored recently (1954) at a cost of over £3,000 to save it from death-watch beetle and dry rot.
In 1824 two medieval wall-paintings were uncovered in the south aisle of the nave. (fn. 271) One depicted the adoration of the Magi, the other the Resurrection and the weighing of souls in a balance. They were plastered over at the restoration, but sketches of them made by Dean Buckland's daughter hang in the vestry.
The octagonal font, on a tall octagonal base, has a quatrefoil panel on each face. (fn. 272)
In the course of the 18th century low oak benches were provided in the chancel for the boys of Dr. South's School. (fn. 273) One of these benches is preserved in the vestry.
Part of an ancient rood screen was in the church as late as 1846. (fn. 274)
The stained glass in the east window (designed by Warrington) and that of the west window were both installed in 1861. The glass in the south chancel window was designed in 1904 by James Powell Ltd. of Whitefriars. The oak reredos was executed in 1906 by James Rogers of Oxford; it replaced a creed and ten commandments. (fn. 275) The present organ was installed in 1879 at a cost of about £180. (fn. 276)
The church contains two identical death masks, one in the north wall of the nave, and one in the vestry. The identity of these masks has never been proved, but it is possible that they are masks of Richard Busby, the famous headmaster of Westminister School, for whom Robert South, rector 1678–1716, acted as executor. Death masks of Busby are known to have been made but have never been found. (fn. 277)
The chancel contains a number of memorials, mainly of 17th-century date. (fn. 278) There are brass plates to John Aglionby, rector 1600–9/10, and his son John (d. 1610), with the Aglionby arms, and to James Harracks, rector 1610–25/6. There are tables with coats of arms commemorating Edward Dewe, gent, (a strong Puritan, possibly lessee of the manor during the Commonwealth and Protectorate, (fn. 279) d. 1656/7), and Luke Clapham Esq. of Grays Inn (d. 1676) and Susanna his wife (d. 1669). On the north wall of the chancel is a tablet of alabaster and brass with quartered arms of Norris to Henry Norris Esq. (d. 1637/8) with one son (d. 1634), to Susanna his wife, and to her first husband, Robert Banks, gent. (d. 1605), with eighteen children, all kneeling. The east window and the communion rail are memorials to William Buckland, rector 1846–56. There is a brass to Thomas Welbank, rector (d. 1903), and a memorial to A. E. Stone, rector 1902–10. There was another brass in the south aisle which has disappeared. (fn. 280)
In 1552 the church plate consisted of one silver chalice, two candlesticks and a censer of latten, and a holy-water stoup of brass. (fn. 281) In 1955 there were a silver chalice, possibly dating from about 1635 and known as 'Dr. South's chalice', (fn. 282) a large silver paten with the hall-mark of 1713, given by Dr. South, and some 19th-century plate given by John Parsons. (fn. 283)
The five 17th-century bells formerly in the tower were cast into a set of six in 1859 at the expense of John Parsons. The sanctus bell was cast by Humphrey Keene in 1652. In 1552 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 284)
The registers date from 1590.
A building known as the Confessor's chapel stood on the north side of the church until the 18th century. Until the beginning of the present century a plot of ground in this part of the churchyard and beyond was known as Chapel yard. (fn. 285) A sketch of the building was made by the antiquary Hearne in 1718; (fn. 286) from this it appears unlikely that the chapel was built before the 12th century. Hearne describes it as being fifteen paces in length and seven in breadth, with three small windows and a door in the north side. Richard de Ware, Abbot of Westminster 1258–83, appointed a chaplain to celebrate masses here for the soul of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 287) In the 15th century the Abbot of Westminster was held to be bound ratione tenure to maintain a chaplain at Islip for this purpose. (fn. 288) Monks of Westminster studying at Gloucester College, Oxford, observed the feast of St. Edward in the chapel at Islip. (fn. 289) The chapel was desecrated during the Commonwealth; when Hearne saw it the old windows and doors were blocked up and it was used as a barn. It was demolished in about 1780; some of the materials are said to have been used in additions to the 'Red Lion'. (fn. 290)
The chapel contained a font traditionally associated with Ethelred's palace and said to be the Confessor's baptismal font; it was desecrated during the Commonwealth and used at the 'Plume of Feathers' for mixing turkey food. After passing through various hands it was given to Middleton Stoney church by Lady Jersey. (fn. 291)
There was little Roman Catholicism in the parish: in the early 17th century there was a Catholic yeoman; (fn. 292) in 1676 there was one Catholic; (fn. 293) and in 1706 there was one Catholic family, the Palmers. (fn. 294)
Returns to episcopal visitations in the 18th century record very few Protestant nonconformists, and none of any rank. However, in 1779 the house of Edward Gulliver was registered as a meeting-house, perhaps Presbyterian, (fn. 295) and in 1791 the backhouse of Joseph Bridgewater was also registered. (fn. 296) The latter was Methodist, for early in the 19th century there were twenty Methodists in the parish who were visited by an itinerant teacher once a fortnight, but who also attended church. (fn. 297) Several dissenting meeting-places were certified between 1820 and 1843. (fn. 298)
In 1843 a Wesleyan Methodist chapel is said to have been built; (fn. 299) by this is probably meant the conversion of a carpenter's shed, which was used until the 1880's. (fn. 300) In 1851 the congregation numbered 70; the members, however, 'were by no means ill affected to the church'. (fn. 301) A new chapel and school. room were built in 1886 at a cost of £560, (fn. 302) and this chapel had a membership of about twenty in 1954. (fn. 303)
A small Baptist chapel, described as a 'poor man's house', (fn. 304) was opened in 1850, but the congregation was very small (only twelve), (fn. 305) and it did not survive until the end of the century. (fn. 306)
In 1709 the rector, Robert South, enlarged his apprenticing trust (fn. 307) to include a school for poor boys of Islip. (fn. 308) By a final revision of the trust in 1712 Dr. South's School was to take not less than 15 or more than 21 free scholars. The original endowment consisted of about 52 acres in Cutteslowe and Wolvercote, fee-farm rents of £16 14s. 8d. in Godington and Easington, and an annuity of £6 12s. The schoolmaster, who had to be a member of the Church of England, was to teach the boys to read, write, and cast accounts and to perfect them in the catechism. The teaching of French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew was expressly forbidden. The master received £15 a year and each boy a blue coat and cap. Scholars were nominated on Easter Tuesdays in the church chancel, and failing suitable candidates from Islip vacancies might be filled from neighbouring parishes, with a preference for Noke. The church bell was rung every school day at 6 a.m. in summer and 7 a.m. in winter; in 1955 it was being rung at 8.45. In 1812, when the annual income of the charity was about £110, 20 more free boys were admitted and the master's salary was increased. (fn. 309)
The school was built in 1710. (fn. 310) By 1815 90 to 100 boys in all were being instructed on the National Society's plan. (fn. 311) By 1833, when there were 75 pupils, girls had been admitted to the school, (fn. 312) and it subsequently appears that the 20 additional places of 1812 were given to 16 girls and 4 boys, (fn. 313) though only the 21 original scholars received clothing. In 1867 there were two teachers, neither certificated, and the only addition to the founder's curriculum was that two boys learned 'mensuration or book-keeping'. (fn. 314)
In or about 1856 an infants' school was established at Islip, under the auspices of the National Society. (fn. 315) In 1871, when there were 80 children in the school, it was enlarged. It was inadequately endowed, however, and in 1873 both it and Dr. South's School were threatened with secularization when the Education Department proposed to place the schools of Islip and Wood Eaton under a school board. A vestry committee raised subscriptions to increase the endowment of the infants' school, and both schools were thus removed beyond official criticism. (fn. 316) In the late 19th century the foundation of 1856 functioned as an infants' department of Dr. South's school. The combined average attendance was 102 in 1889, (fn. 317) and in 1893 a new school was built to replace that of 1710. (fn. 318) There were 100 pupils in 1906. (fn. 319) The school was reorganized for junior pupils in 1932, when seniors were sent to Gosford Hill, and the average attendance was only 34 in 1937. Dr. South's was the first school in Oxfordshire to acquire aided status under the 1944 Education Act—in 1950. In 1954 the junior department was housed in the buildings of 1893, and the infants' in that of 1856. There were then 84 pupils in all. The old school building was used as a parish room and for meetings of the Women's Institute. (fn. 320)
In 1771 a fund consisting of money given at the sacrament was instituted for the schooling of poor girls. (fn. 321) A school supported by the fund was opened in 1785 with a mistress and 6 pupils. (fn. 322) The latter, like the boys of Dr. South's school, were elected on Easter Tuesdays. In the early 19th century the fund paid for the education of 12 girls at two of the dame schools. (fn. 323) It was shared by 6 boys and 6 girls in 1833 and was still supporting 12 children in 1854. (fn. 324)
In the early 19th century a small boarding-school taught 8 young ladies reading, writing, English, and needlework. (fn. 325) There were also 3 dame schools in 1808 with 16 pupils who were taught reading, and 4 dame schools in 1815 and in 1818, when they had 38 pupils, all girls. (fn. 326) In 1833 three dame schools had 43 pupils, of whom 31 were paid for by their parents, and in 1854 two schools shared 60 pupils. (fn. 327) These probably did not survive long after the 1870 Education Act: there was still one 'adventure school' in 1871, but no details of it were available. (fn. 328)
In 1688 William Auger gave £40 to the Islip poor: the money was used to buy land at Hampton Poyle, (fn. 329) which in 1786 was producing 19s. a year, (fn. 330) and in 1824 £1 11s. 6d. Before 1810 the income was distributed to the poor either in money or in bread and coal, but afterwards it was used for the schooling of poor girls and very young boys. (fn. 331) In 1810 the income, still unchanged, was being distributed in bread. (fn. 332) By 1939 the income was £3 4s. 4d., but by 1955 the charity had lapsed. (fn. 333)
Robert South, the rector, in 1704 set up a trust for apprenticing two poor children of Islip each year. (fn. 334) In 1712 he provided that each year part of the endowments of his school should be set aside to apprentice two or three boys, preferably scholars of his school, at fees of £7 each and at place not nearer than Oxford. The apprentice fees were increased to £15 each for two boys in 1812, and were still the same in 1870. (fn. 335) In 1955 the income received under the terms of Dr. South's will, about £240, was partly used for the apprenticing of boys.
When endowing the school in 1712, Dr. South had also stipulated that any surplus income was to be divided among those widows of Islip who were 'most noted for frequenting the church'. From 1812 onwards these widows regularly received 5s. each twice a year: £5 15s. in all was distributed to them in 1836; (fn. 336) in 1869 and 1870 £15; (fn. 337) and in the 1950's about £5 a year was distributed by the rector.
By will dated 1835 a certain person of the surname Dennett gave £300 in stock to the trustees of South's School for increasing the apprentices' fees. (fn. 338) In 1870 a dividend of £8 1s. 8d. was used for apprenticing, but in 1955 this charity could not be traced. (fn. 339)
In 1851 Martha Litchfield bequeathed about £500 in stock to augment Dr. South's charities. In 1870 an income of £16 12s. 3d. was being used for educational purposes, (fn. 340) but in 1939 the income, then about £12, was distributed to the poor at Christmas. (fn. 341) Mrs. Litchfield also planned to build and endow almshouses in Lower Street. (fn. 342) In 1870 £14 15s. 8d., the income from about £500 stock, was distributed to the poor in clothing, (fn. 343) and the almshouse scheme apparently never materialized. The charity could not be traced in 1955.
Under the inclosure award of 1808 about 3 acres of land on Brought Common were allotted to the churchwardens and overseers for the benefit of the poor. Another 3½ acres were awarded to them in lieu of the former Town Lands and the Constable's Highway. (fn. 344) In 1939 the rents of the Poor's Land, £1 5s., were distributed to poor old men at Christmas. (fn. 345) In 1940, by agreement with the County Council, 1½ acres of the Poor's Land was taken for the Oxford-Bicester road. (fn. 346)
In 1951, after Chancery proceedings, the bequest of Miss Gertrude Mullett (d. 1947) was set up as a trust, with capital of £1,059, to be used for Dr. South's school, any surplus going towards the upkeep of the parish church. (fn. 347)