A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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The parish lies on the east bank of the River Cherwell, which divides it from the parish of Tackley. (fn. 1) The Gallows Brook forms much of its eastern boundary. The area of the ancient parish (3,582 a.) has remained unchanged. (fn. 2) The parish is mostly above the 300-foot contour, but the ground falls away slightly on the south and east and, much more markedly, on the west towards the Cherwell. The soil, primarily Cornbrash, is excellent for pasture and for barley. (fn. 3) The village, which extends for ¾ mile north and south, is in the southern half of the parish, with Kirtlington Park adjacent to it on the east. Timber is fairly plentiful, especially in and around the park. The hamlet of Northbrook lies near the river, 1½ miles north-north-west of the village. The Oxford-Banbury railway and the RugbyOxford canal both follow the Chenvell valley. The railway, opened in 1850, here lies mostly on the Tackley bank, but enters the parish at two points owing to bends in the river. (fn. 4) The canal, which in 1787 had just reached Northbrook, is on the Kirtlington bank. (fn. 5)
The Inclosure Award of 1815 names six roads which shall be maintained as 40-foot public highways; these, with one exception, constitute the roads of the parish today. (fn. 6) The Somerton road, running north, follows the line of the pre-Roman Portway. The Bicester road was the name normally used of Akeman Street, which runs east from the Somerton road along the north edge of Kirtlington Park. (fn. 7) The Middleton road, used as an alternative road to Bicester, runs to the north of, and roughly parallel with, Akeman Street; it was built about 1800, and is locally called New Road. (fn. 8) The Brackley road, now disused and overgrown, branched north-east from the Somerton road and ran beside the pre-Saxon Aves Ditch; reference is made to it in 1396, and it occurs earlier as Aves Ditch Way. (fn. 9) The Woodstock road, running south-west to Enslow Bridge, and the Bletchingdon (or Oxford) road are not apparently mentioned by name before the 16th century; but the Bletchingdon road at least, which was the boundary between the open fields, is much older than this. Of the existing lanes, Mill Lane is clearly medieval; Crowcastle Lane, leading from Kirtlington towards Northbrook, is part of the old Deddington Way (fn. 10) which passed to the west of Northbrook; and the seemingly ephemeral cart-tracks which lead from the village to Vicarage Farm buildings and from Crowcastle Lane to Briton Field have existed since about 1200 at least, their medieval names being Warper's Way and Plumper's Way. (fn. 11) Several roads or lanes disappeared in the 18th century. Of these the most frequently mentioned, from the 13th century, is Northbrook Church Way, an alternative track to Northbrook east of the Deddington Way. (fn. 12) In the eastern half of the parish, Weston Way, Wolwell (or Wooller's) Way, and the old Middleton Way had all vanished by 1815. (fn. 13) There were certainly two fords over the Cherwell—White Hill ford at the mill and Catsham ford just west of Northbrook; (fn. 14) tracks from each led up to Tackley. A footbridge was built at Catsham about 1637; the present narrow stone bridge existed by 1750. (fn. 15)
Until the 15th century there was only one wood of any note; it lay in the eastern half of the parish and was called Old Wood. (fn. 16) Herons and probably also spoonbills (volucres vocati poplers) nested there in 1390, but had ceased to do so by 1416. (fn. 17) In an exceptional year more than £15 worth of timber was sold from it, (fn. 18) A New Wood, the present Cockshot Copse, had recently been planted in 1476. (fn. 19) These two woods are called the Great and Little Woods in some accounts of 1539, (fn. 20) and the name Great Wood is normal from this time. In 1591 the manor possessed two coppices totalling about 100 acres 'wherein are one thousand timber trees or thereabouts of all sorts'. (fn. 21) Part of the Great Wood is said to have been cut down in 1741 to clear the site for Kirtlington House. (fn. 22) Many new plantations, mostly of a few acres, were made between 1821 and 1844; in 1908 woods and plantations totalled about 219 acres. (fn. 23)
By the inclosure award Kirtlington lost its Town Green, which was allotted to Sir Henry Dashwood. It lay to the north of the present North Green, and its 10 acres had constituted a piece of common grazing. (fn. 24) There were originally gates on all roads and tracks leaving the village; 16th- and 17th-century court rolls mention at least six of these by name. (fn. 25) Apart from the inclosure of Town Green, and with the exception of the council houses built at the south end and on the west side of the village in 1948 and 1954, the general plan of Kirtlington is much as in the map of 1750. A fair number of the present houses must have been standing then. The most striking in appearance is Manor House Farm, which until recently carried a stone dated 1563. Foxtown End Farm is partly a 17th-century house, and Portway House, though much altered, has an inscription 'T.W.: A.W. 1684'.
Kirtlington House itself stands in the park, about half a mile from the village. It was built by Sir James Dashwood, who personally kept 'A general account of money expended on my new house, and the outworks about it, begun 12th September: 1741. (fn. 26) The first stone was laid on 22 April 1742 and the house occupied on 30 August 1746. The work was not then finished, but of the £32,388 8s. spent by 1759 the great bulk (c. £26,000) had been spent by the end of 1747, and much of the later expense was on the gardens and grounds. The architect was John Sanderson, who received £65; plans were also submitted by James Gibbs, architect of the Radcliffe Camera, at a fee of £30, and comparison of the two sets of plans suggests that Sanderson may have borrowed certain features from Gibbs. The builder was William Smith of Warwick. The house contains a room famous for its frescoed ceiling of monkeys engaged in field sports; the painter, M. Clermont, was paid £52 10s. The grounds were laid out by 'Capability' Brown, who between 1755 and 1762 received £1,574 2s. for the work. Northbrook manorhouse, thought to have been built between 1579 and 1641, (fn. 27) was demolished after Kirtlington House was built. A brick dovecote and clock-tower, some of the walled gardens, and some outbuildings survive, and there are medieval fishponds in the grounds.
The names of three 17th-century inns are known. The 'Dolphin' is mentioned in 1644; (fn. 28) the 'George' and the 'Red Lion' both occur in deeds of c. 1675– 1700. (fn. 29) The 'Dashwood Arms' was occupying its present site in 1815. (fn. 30) A 'Six Bells', which no longer exists, also occurs in 1815 and again in 1884, (fn. 31) when it had moved to a different site.
Domesday Book mentions two mills in Kirtlington. (fn. 32) Most, but not all, later references are to a single mill. There is evidence that in the 13th century there were two mills, close together but on opposite sides of the river. (fn. 33) In 1204 the mill was damaged. (fn. 34) The early 13th-century evidence of ownership is ample but confusing; (fn. 35) prersumably various parties had different rights in the mill, or mills, simultaneously. Certainly 'the mill at Kirtlington' was sold by Ingerram de Kirtlington to John Fitzhugh, and by Fitzhugh's son-in-law, Adam Fitzhervey, to Gilbert Basset, who gave two mills to Bicester Priory c. 1240. In 1535 the priory leased the mill to John Andrewes of Kirtlington. (fn. 36) In 1568 two water-mills, with other lands formerly belonging to the priory, were bought by Anthony and John Arden from Nicholas Backhouse and Anna his wife; and this estate, including the mills, was sold to Humfrey Hide and William Keate in 1639. (fn. 37) There appears to be no later reference to two mills. By 1692 the mill had acquired its modern name of Flight's Mill; (fn. 38) in 1815 it was owned by William Enser. (fn. 39) There was also a horse-mill in the village at one time. (fn. 40)
The village, sited on a plateau of Oxford Clay capped by gravel, was settled in Saxon times: its name means the 'tun of Cyrtla's people', and a Saxon burial has been discovered there. (fn. 41) In medieval times the manor-house, it may be conjectured, stood near the centre of the village, where there is a triangular moat. (fn. 42)
The lords occasionally resided at the manor-house. Philip Basset witnessed an undated charter of one of his free tenants at Kirtlington, (fn. 43) and another, dated December 1299, was witnessed at Kirtlington by Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 44) In 1390, although the demesne was then leased out, £9 12s. 2d. was spent on building work at the manor-house, the majority of it 'in quadam capella annexa camere domini de novo construenda'. (fn. 45) In 1422 the house was certainly in good condition. (fn. 46) Later it was allowed to fall into complete decay. In 1471, for example, the hall was roofless, (fn. 47) and a lease of 1517 refers to 'the syght of the mansion of the same manor, with a barne or shepe house now thereon standing'. (fn. 48) During the baronial wars of Henry III's reign a number of houses in Kirtlington were burnt, no doubt because of the prominence in the struggle of the lord of the manor, Philip Basset. (fn. 49) The unpopularity of a later lord, Hugh Despenser the elder, led to another attack on Kirtlington. (fn. 50) Royalist troops appear to have been quartered in the village in the Civil War—one soldier was shot in the 'Dolphin' in 1644. (fn. 51) In 1646 Sir John Lenthall, who farmed the rectory, reported that he had received no money from it for five years and that 'the destruction of the houses are such that £200 will hardly repair them', (fn. 52) and St. John's College remitted him 3½ years' rent. Between April 1649 and September 1650 parliamentary soldiers were billeted in the Rectory on eighteen occasions at a total cost of £32 2s., and there were other heavy charges upon it. (fn. 53) In 1651 it was ordered that the fee-farm of the manor should be paid to Captain Abraham Davis. (fn. 54) In 1754 Kirtlington Park was the scene of some of the preliminaries to the notorious county election in which Sir James Dashwood was a candidate. (fn. 55)
The history of the Dashwoods belongs to the county, but they naturally exercised a permeating influence, of which many visible evidences remain, on the life of the parish. All, with the apparent exception of the 3rd baronet, who became heavily encumbered with debt, (fn. 56) were active and conscientious landlords. Early in the 16th century three knightly families owned land in the parish, those of Hampden, Dormer, and Bray. (fn. 57) Of the yeoman families whose names predominate in the manorial and parish records, the most prominent is that of Hall, which first occurs in 1494 (fn. 58) and disappears late in the 19th century. Over 80 Halls were born in Kirtlington, and nearly 50 died, in the period 1590– 1700. (fn. 59) One of the two Kirtlington-born mayors of Oxford was Anthony Hall, vintner (mayor 1673), the other being A. J. George (mayor 1924). (fn. 60) Two more obscure individuals may be mentioned: Nicholas Jurdan of Kirtlington, a hermit (oc. 1341), (fn. 61) and Ann Thomas, who died in 1748 aged 101. (fn. 62)
Kirtlington was a royal manor in the time of Edward the Confessor, (fn. 63) and was presumably already a hundredal manor in the 10th century. It is first mentioned in 945, when a payment was made there to the king, (fn. 64) and in 977 Edward the Martyr held a witenagemot there at which Archbishop Dunstan was present. (fn. 65) 'CHERIELINTONE' appears in Domesday Book as an important royal manor yielding £52 yearly, and having the soke of 2½ hundreds, which are identifiable in the later hundred of Ploughley. (fn. 66) Early in Henry II's reign, however, the manor was held by Richard de Humez, (fn. 67) Constable of Normandy; and as it does not appear in the pipe rolls under terre date it must have already been alienated under Henry I. Richard de Humez's wife, Agnes, was a daughter of Jordan de Say and Lucy de Aulnay, by whom Kirtlington church was given to Aulnay Abbey. (fn. 68) It seems likely, therefore, that the manor had been held by Jordan de Say, a conjecture supported by an entry in the 1130 pipe roll. (fn. 69) Richard's son, William de Humez, was holding the manor when it escheated as terra Normannorum in 1203. (fn. 70) By an unusual arrangement its administration was apparently placed in the hands of the reeve and four men of the village; (fn. 71) but this cannot have been for long as in 1204 it was handed over from the custody of Geoffrey le Sauvage to the royal minister, John Fitzhugh, who was to account for it at the Exchequer. (fn. 72) Fitzhugh was still in possession in November 1215, when he was ordered to hand over part of the fee to Ralph de Montibus; (fn. 73) but he deserted the king in 1216 and was deprived of the remainder of the fee in favour of John's mercenary captain William de Bréauté. (fn. 74) William held the manor until the siege of Bedford. On 11 March 1224 Thomas Basset, of Headington, was given seisin of it during pleasure; on 30 April it was restored to de Bréauté, only to be handed back to Basset three weeks later. (fn. 75) In 1227 it was formally granted by charter to Thomas Basset and his heirs. (fn. 76) In 1230 the manor passed, on Thomas's death, to his brother Gilbert Basset, of Wycombe. (fn. 77) In 1233, when Gilbert's fiefs were confiscated in consequence of his part in the rebellion of that year, Kirtlington manor was given to Henry de Trubleville during pleasure; (fn. 78) but it was shortly restored to Gilbert, who obtained a charter in 1235. (fn. 79)
William de Humez had held his Oxfordshire lands by service of ½ knight; (fn. 80) possibly this included other lands beside Kirtlington. In the 13th century Kirtlington's assessment was for ¼ knight's fee; (fn. 81) with Nether Orton and Bignell it made up a single fee. (fn. 82)
Gilbert Basset was followed successively by his brothers, Fulk, Bishop of London 1244–59, and Philip, justiciar 1261–3. In 1255 Fulk Basset was authorized to tallage his tenants on the manor if it was indeed ancient demesne. (fn. 83) He also had view of frankpledge. (fn. 84) On Philip's death in 1271 the manor remained as dower in the hands of his wife, Ela, dowager Countess of Warwick, (fn. 85) who in 1279 was enjoying among other rights the liberty of return of royal writs. (fn. 86)
Philip Basset's heiress, Alina, widow of Hugh Despenser who was killed at Evesham, and by her second marriage wife of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, was outlived by her mother. Kirtlington therefore passed in 1297 to Alina's son Hugh Despenser, later Earl of Winchester. (fn. 87) It was pillaged, with many other Despenser manors, when in the king's hand during Despenser's exile (1321–2). (fn. 88) On its forfeiture in 1326 it was granted (2 March 1327) with a group of Despenser's Oxfordshire manors (fn. 89) and much other property to Edward III's uncle, Thomas of Brotherton, as part of the provision intended for him by Edward I. (fn. 90) In 1332 it was among the manors which, with Thomas' acquiescence, the king granted to his kinsman, William de Bohun, later Earl of Northampton. (fn. 91) In 1360 it passed to his son, Humphrey, then a minor, (fn. 92) on whose early death in 1373 the vast Bohun inheritance was divided between his daughters, Eleanor and Mary, subsequently married to Thomas of Woodstock and Henry of Bolingbroke respectively. In 1374 Kirtlington was among the lands committed in wardship to Eleanor's future husband; (fn. 93) later it was assigned definitely to her moiety of the inheritance. (fn. 94) On her death in 1399, her daughter and heiress, Anne, Countess of Stafford, succeeded to her estates; (fn. 95) but in the repartition of the Bohun lands which took place in 1421 on the death of Humphrey de Bohun's long-lived widow, (fn. 96) Kirtlington was included in the share transferred to the king, and thus became a manor of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 97)
With many other manors, Kirtlington was assigned in dower to three successive queens of England: to Katharine, the queen-mother, in 1422; (fn. 98) to Margaret of Anjou in 1444; (fn. 99) and to Elizabeth Woodville in 1467–8. (fn. 100) Its stewardship was an office of profit, which was for some time held by William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. (fn. 101) A clerk, Richard Martyn, was granted custody of the manor for life in 1481; (fn. 102) Sir Edward Wydville was assigned a pension on it six months later. (fn. 103) In the 16th century the manor was normally farmed out. Thomas Lovett was farming it in 1517, (fn. 104) as was John Wellesborne between 1526 and 1537. (fn. 105) It was retained by the Crown 1543–55, (fn. 106) but from 1556 to 1622 it was in the hands of an Oxfordshire family, a branch of the Ardens of Cottisford. (fn. 107) In addition to farming Kirtlington manor, the Ardens were much the largest landowners in the parish. They owed their position to Anthony Arden (d. 1573), who had held some freehold land in Kirtlington since 1538; (fn. 108) later he married, as her second husband, the granddaughter and heiress of the woolman John Cockes, who had held 11¾ yardlands freehold in the manor. (fn. 109) In 1556 Anthony Arden bought from John Dormer of Steeple Aston another sizeable freehold, (fn. 110) and finally (1568) Anthony and John Arden acquired the 'manor' of Kirtlington and Tackley, which had belonged to Bicester Priory. (fn. 111) Anthony was followed by his sons John (d. 1605) and Henry (d. 1622). (fn. 112) The association of the Ardens with Kirtlington was probably more direct than that of any family which had previously held the manor. Henry Arden left no male heir, and was followed as farmer for two years by Hugh Keate. (fn. 113)
In 1604, however, the Crown had sold Kirtlington, with other manors, to Peter Vanlore, merchant, and William Blake, both of London. (fn. 114) It was to be held, in free socage, as of the manor of Enfield (Mdx.) at an annual rent of £43 6s. 8d., and the existing farmer's lease, of 41 years from 1584, was explicitly protected. (fn. 115) In 1610 Vanlore and Blake resold Kirtlington for £3,000 to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, chief justice of Chester, who held his first court as lord of the manor in 1625, (fn. 116) in which year he died. His son Thomas bought Northbrook in 1641, (fn. 117) a step which in effect united the two manors.
In 1682 Penelope, daughter of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, Bt. (grandson of the chief justice), was married to Robert Dashwood. Sir Thomas himself died in 1682. By the marriage settlement all the Chamberlayne estates in Kirtlington passed to Robert Dashwood, (fn. 118) on whom a baronetcy was conferred in 1684. (fn. 119) The Dashwoods held Northbrook and Kirtlington until 1909. (fn. 120) Although they were great landowners elsewhere in Oxfordshire, their main residence in the county was at first at Northbrook House and later at Kirtlington Park. (fn. 121) In 1909, the estate was bought by the Earl of Leven and Melville. (fn. 122) His successor sold it in 1920 to J. White Esq., who never resided in the parish. In 1921 it was bought by H. M. Budgett Esq.
Domesday Book (fn. 123) does not differentiate between Northbrook Gaytorum (the present NORTHBROOK) and Northbrook iuxta Somerton, once in the parish of Somerton. (fn. 124) It records 3 small fees in Northbrook; the largest of these, 2 hides held by Rainald of Robert de Stafford, is identifiable with Northbrook Gaytorum, since in 1193 Hilda de Gay held in Northbrook de feodo Roberti de Stafford. (fn. 125) In 1242 Northbrook Gaytorum was held in chief by the Abbot of Westminster as ¼ knight's fee, and in 1255 it constituted a part of the abbot's liberty of Islip, the abbot having acquired his right since 1216. (fn. 126) The heirs of Philip Basset held as sub-tenants of the abbot in 1279. (fn. 127) From the 12th century to the 16th, however, the ultimate tenants were the Gays, originally a branch of the family that held Hampton Gay. (fn. 128) The Northbrook tithing attended the two 'great courts' at Islip manor each year, and paid 3s. cert-money at least until the early 16th century. (fn. 129) After the Reformation 'the lordship and manor' of Northbrook was among the endowments of Westminster Abbey as refounded successively by Mary and Elizabeth. (fn. 130) Northbrook is mentioned as part of Islip manor in a lease of 1687, but by this date the connexion with Westminster Abbey and Islip can have been no more than a meaningless survival. (fn. 131) In. practice the connexion with Kirtlington must always have been much closer, Northbrook having no separate field system. Suit was owed at Kirtlington and Adam de Gay witnessed many charters in the manorial court in the 13th century. (fn. 132) In 1422 the lord of Northbrook, as a tenant-at-will, owed 9s. 5d. in commuted labour services to the lord of Kirtlington, (fn. 133) while the customary tenants of Northbrook vill owed a further 4s. (fn. 134) In about 1540 the Kirtlington homage presented that John de Gay had held Northbrook of the king as of his manor of Kirtlington, owing an annual rent of 13s. 5d. (fn. 135) Between about 1570 and 1641 the manor changed hands many times. William Arscote of Holdsworthy (Devon) acquired it from the Gays after litigation arising out of non-fulfilment of a marriage agreement between the families. (fn. 136) By a marriage settlement on Arscote's daughter (1578) it passed to John Fox, yeoman, of Kirtlington. (fn. 137) By a further marriage settlement (1609) it was to pass to William Holleyman of Long Handborough; but in 1619 it was sold to John Hollins, presumably acting for John Hawley, D.C.L. of Oxford University, to whom the property was transferred almost immediately. Thomas Chamberlayne bought it from Edmund Hawley in 1641.
The KIRTLINGTON manor (fn. 138) of Bicester Priory was given in free alms to the priory by Gilbert Basset shortly before his death in 1241. (fn. 139) This estate, whose annual value was assessed at £5 3s. 3d. In 1291, (fn. 140) had been bought by Gilbert Basset from Baldwin de Montibus in 1239 for 100 marks. (fn. 141) It had originally been part of the main manor, having been granted by William de Humez to Baldwin's father, Ralph. Presumably it escheated with the De Humez fee in 1203, for in 1215 it was 'restored' to Ralph to be held by him in chief of the Crown. In 1222, on the death of his brother Herbert to whom he had subinfeudated it in 1217, Ralph did homage for it as for 1/7 knight's fee. Shortly afterwards, however, it was in the hands of the king's uncle, William, Earl of Salisbury, on whose death it was committed to Thomas Basset during pleasure. It was again restored to Ralph de Montibus in 1227, and passed to his son Baldwin in 1234. The estate was held by Bicester Priory until the Dissolution. In 1535 the priory's lands in Kirtlington and Tackley were under one bailiff, (fn. 142) and were later sometimes called a single manor. (fn. 143) They were acquired by the Ardens in 1568 (fn. 144) and thereafter followed the descent of the main manor.
The KIRTLINGTON manor (fn. 145) of the Abbot of Aulnay must have been larger than the 1279 survey implies. In 1341–2 his lands, apart from the glebe, comprised 3 carucates. (fn. 146) The Aulnay deeds show many instances of gifts of a few acres, or often a single acre, in free alms to the abbey by individual local freeholders. One deed mentions a tenant bringing an action for land in the abbot's court of Kirtlington per breve regis, and another, dated 1270, suggests that the abbot enjoyed view of frankpledge. (fn. 147)
Apart from the Northbrook holdings and a hide held by Osmund the priest, Domesday Book records two subsidiary fees, one of 2 hides held by Herbert of Robert d'Oilly, the other of 1 hide held by Robert d'Oilly of William FitzOsborn; (fn. 148) but one of the hides held by Herbert has been identified with Grove in Holton. (fn. 149) Under Henry III the tenure-in-chief of the two small D'Oilly fees in Kirtlington passed, with that of other D'Oilly lands, to the De Plescy family, which still held it in 1364. (fn. 150) In 1279 each of these fees was of 1 carucate and was assessed for scutage as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 151) The families in possession, the De Codefords and the De Doningtons, are both prominent in local charters from before 1250. (fn. 152) The De Codeford carucate went with lands in Ducklington and Little Barford to make up 2 knight's fees held of the chief lords by the De Dives. (fn. 153) That of the De Doningtons was held by them of a mediate lord, Henry de la Grave. (fn. 154) The later history of these holdings is not known, although the carucate held by John de Croxford in 1350 is certainly one of them. (fn. 155)
Several lay tenants in the parish had their own courts in the 13th century. (fn. 156) In the 15th century one lesser holding was styled a 'manor', and in 1461 Sir Edmund Hampden was temporarily deprived, on attainder, of the 'manor of Bowelles in Kyrtlyngton', worth 60s. at that time. (fn. 157) This small fee was probably one of those held of Kirtlington manor, since in the 16th century the Hampdens owed suit there until 1554. (fn. 158)
Economic and Social History.
In the Middle Ages the agriculture of the whole parish was organized on a two-field economy. The fields were called the East and West Fields, or often, in early deeds, campus versus boscum and campus versus aquam: they were separated by the Somerton and Bletchingdon roads. (fn. 159) The meadow land was concentrated along Gallows Brook, on the eastern edge of the parish, and beside the Cherwell, where lay Whitmersham, Pinsey, Briton, and Northam meadows. Almost all the waste and common land lay in the northern part of the parish, either behind Northbrook and in the 'Breach Furze', east of the Somerton road, or in Roumer Leys and Grove Leys, which together covered most of the area between Akeman Street and the Middleton parish boundary. (fn. 160) In 1750 the common land amounted to 720 acres; (fn. 161) in the 16th century its extent must have been considerably greater. The court roll of October 1596, for example, records a decision to convert to tillage 1 furlong and one other parcel of land, both adjacent to Middleton Field. In 1591 a jury assessed the area in the manor 'besides wastes' as 1,086 acres, less than one-third of the area of the parish; (fn. 162) but this surprisingly low figure does not include Northbrook manor and other freeholds.
Although nearly all the early evidence indicates a completely regular two-field system, one or two deeds suggest that the two fields may not have comprised the whole of the arable; (fn. 163) and some kind of a 'hitch' evidently existed as early as 1263. (fn. 164) A 'hitchefylde', contrasted with the 'cornefylde', occurs in 1586; (fn. 165) but it is only from 1619 that the 'pease hitch' suddenly becomes a regular feature, alternating between the two fields in a fixed four-year cycle. (fn. 166) The mention of pease, barley, and wheat crops in a single year, e.g. 1629, also suggests the introduction of a four-course rotation. In 1638, however, an agreement is recorded for the pease hitch to follow an eight-year cycle, approximately a quarter of each field to be hitched every other year. Few court rolls exist for the period 1641–1737; that of 1700 shows an eight-year cycle still in use, but the two surviving rolls of Charles II's reign indicate that a six-year cycle had been tried. How the rotation of crops was affected by these changes is not clear. Rye and oats are both mentioned in earlier rolls, and a hemp plot 'containing by estimacioun a quarter of a yard of ground' existed at Northbrook in 1619; (fn. 167) but there is no evidence of new crops in the common fields until the 18th century. In 1738 Ramley Hill, above Northbrook, was planted with 'saint foyn' for ten years, and although the ground was reported worn out at the end of the experiment (fn. 168) some part of the fields was always under sainfoin for the rest of the century. From 1739 there was a 'horse hitch' where vetches or clover were grown for feed; grass seed was sown in 1748 and subsequent years. Between 1747 and 1757 there was regularly an area of 'three crop ground'. Turnips were grown by Sir James Dashwood in 1751 (fn. 169) and in the common fields from 1764. The East and West fields were still spoken of, but they had been subdivided into various 'quarters'. In 1750 there were five quarters (in addition to the park) in the East Field and seven, or eight including Ramley Hill, in the West. (fn. 170) At least five quarters were named; others were described by their bounding roads or tracks. No definite system of crop rotation is discernible, although the court rolls show that the same ground was sown with turnips every fourth year with fair regularity.
Most of the medieval demesne of both Kirtlington and Northbrook was unconsolidated, but in 1279 Kirtlington manor is described as having a new park. (fn. 171) This park was probably inclosed from the East Field, since in 1750 the 'old park', an area of 75 acres, was taken into Sir James Dashwood's new park. (fn. 172) A few houses in the 13th century had small closes. (fn. 173) The 1476 rental mentions 6 closes of pasture and 8 of arable, totalling 39 and 60 acres respectively. (fn. 174) Sixteenth-century surveys give no estimates of acreage inclosed, but new inclosure does not appear to have been extensive. It seems unlikely to have caused the complicity of some Kirtlington men in the Oxfordshire rising of 1596. (fn. 175) In 1750 about 400 acres of inclosures were concentrated around the village and at Northbrook, of which Sir James Dashwood owned 230 acres. (fn. 176) Strip cultivation was still in full operation; John Trafford's New farm, for example, a copyhold of 245 acres, consisted of 278 pieces scattered through 115 different furlongs. (fn. 177) The new park, comprising 496 acres, reduced the size of the East Field, although the 1750 map shows many uninclosed strips inside it, a few of which still survived at the time of the award. At that date inclosures had increased to 900 acres, of which the Dashwoods' Park farm accounted for 165 acres. Under the award 2,535 acres were inclosed.
The 1279 survey shows a complicated structure of land tenure within the parish. (fn. 178) Whereas Domesday Book mentions only villeins (villani), bordars, and serfs, (fn. 179) a noticeable feature in 1279 is the number of small free tenants, not only in the main manor but even more markedly in the smaller fees. The more substantial of these resident free tenants, men of 3 or 4 virgates who in some cases had a few free tenants of their own, made up the class which played the leading part in village affairs. (fn. 180) The fact that there were fees independent of the main manor was, except from a legal standpoint, of much less significance than the existence of a single agricultural system, the regulation of which must always have been done in the Kirtlington manorial court. In 1279 the Prior of Bicester and Adam de Gay of Northbrook each had 9 villeins holding half-virgates or less. On the main manor, villeins held 14 virgates, (fn. 181) 9 half-virgates, and l quarter-virgate, figures which had changed little by 1422. (fn. 182)
The earliest surviving Ministers' Accounts (1389– 90) (fn. 183) show a rent of £3 17s. 6d. (entered among the assised rents) being paid for part of the demesne arable farmed out ex antiquo. The rest of the demesne lands, with the labour services of free and customary tenants, were being farmed jointly by three individuals, one of them the vicar, for the term of ten years under an indenture entered into with the attorneys of the Duke of Gloucester, then lord of the manor. They paid a farm of £18 6s. 8d. In 1415 (fn. 184) the position was quite different, and was substantially that depicted in a new rental compiled in 1422. (fn. 185) The demesne lands, amounting to about 233 acres of arable, 69 of pasture, and 39 of meadow, were let off piecemeal to some 20 of the manorial tenants, mostly virgaters or half-virgaters. For most of the 15th century, farm of the demesne totalled £16 17s., and assised rents £17 14s. 6½d. All labour services, which most 15th-century Ministers' Accounts set out in detail, (fn. 186) were now commuted; their value of £1 13s. 6d. compares with an estimated value of £1 17s. 6d. in 1204. (fn. 187) By custom of the manor, copyhold leases could only be granted for one life, (fn. 188) and in the 15th century, when virgate holdings seldom stayed in one family for two generations, the parcels of leased demesne did not become attached to particular holdings. In the 16th century this largely ceased to be the case. In about 1511, for example, Peter Frankelyng's holding comprised 1 messuage and yardland; 1 toft and ½ -yardland called Gyllows; a close, a 'more' and certain 'bordland' in Heryngdon; pieces of meadow in Cranmere and Pyngeye; and a piece of land in Rye Furlong. The same lands were held, at unchanged rents, by John Horne in about 1530 and by Richard Hall in 1619. (fn. 189) The more prosperous copyholders now became important men in village affairs. Whereas, of the numerous village families whose names occur in the rentals of 1422 and 1476 and the court roll of 1470–1, hardly one can be traced a hundred years later, such familes as those of Bath, Hall, Rayer, Walker, and Woodward, which originated between about 1490 and 1560, were all prominent for 200 and some for nearly 400 years. (fn. 190)
After the Dissolution, however, most freeholders were still gentry; in 1544, for example, the list comprised Sir Michael Dormer, John Gay, Owen Whitton, William Bourne, William Hampden, Anthony Arden, John Stavely (all gentry); Thomas Andrewes (not so styled); New College and Magdalen College. (fn. 191) By the end of the century the number of freeholds was increasing, and several village families were owning freehold land. Between 1684 and 1750 Sir Robert and Sir James Dashwood bought up most of the freehold farms, (fn. 192) with the result that the substantial freeholder almost disappeared from the parish. In 1750 there were only 393 acres of freehold lands, other than those of Sir James Dashwood, divided between 21 freeholders. (fn. 193) Under the inclosure award (1815) this acreage was slightly increased owing to the commutation of tithe for land. Apart from Sir Henry Dashwood, whose land amounted to 2,922 acres (including 395 held as lessee of the rector, St. John's College), the only freeholders of more than 10 acres were the vicar, 185 acres; New College, 127 acres; (fn. 194) John Hall, 114 acres. In 1908 the Kirtlington Park estate had 3,143 acres, (fn. 195) to which Vicarage farm (184 a.) was added in 1916. (fn. 196) Many properties, however, including Northbrook, were sold by the estate in the years after the First World War.
In 1591 a freeholder or copyholder might keep for each yardland he possessed 'five rother cattell and seven ploughe beastes', and might graze 50 sheep on the East Field when fallow, 40 on the West. (fn. 197) The introduction of a 4-course rotation destroyed this distinction between the fields; 36 sheep per yardland might be grazed, on either field, in 1667 and 1700, 45 in 1683. (fn. 198) After 1700 the number of sheep per yardland declined steadily until 1761, from which year it remained at 22. The earlier figurs, implying a very large total flock, suggest that wool grown by small producers and sold to middlemen buyers was the real basis of the village's prosperity. One such middleman, John Cockes (d. 1518), 'yoman, alias wolman, alias marchaunt', was himself a Kirtlington man. (fn. 199) Common meadow was allocated annually by lot; and in about 1260 a grant to Aulnay Abbey included 1 acre in the meadow called 'Brusserton' (i.e. Briton), 'in duobus locis sicut in sorte accidere consuevit'. (fn. 200) Briton is described as a 'lott meade' in 1626, and New College possessed 1½ lots in it in 1768. (fn. 201) Lots were also used for the allocation of furze and heath, e.g. in 1557 and 1700, and in 1748 the vetch crop in the horse hitch was allotted in this way.
The view of frankpledge, with court baron, was normally held once a year only, in October or early November. In the early 16th century it was being attended by three Bicester tithings, those of King's End, Bignell, and the manor of Markyate Priory. The performance of suit by Bicester King's End only lapsed in the 19th century. (fn. 202) The tithings of Kirtlington and King's End each paid 13s. 4d. at the view. The lesser court, which usually took place in March or April, and sometimes in other months, seems to have been gradually discontinued after 1600. (fn. 203)
The early surviving court rolls make no mention of elected officials other than the constable and tithingmen. The warrener, (fn. 204) later also called the woodward, was a paid officer appointed by the lord of the manor, and after 1421 by the Crown; he makes many presentments in the early rolls but disappears by 1540. A hayward first occurs c. 1522, the four fieldsmen and the common 'herd' late in Elizabeth's reign. These were the regular agricultural officials for the remainder of the period of openfield cultivation, the hayward and fieldsmen being elected and sworn annually. In 1638 and 1641 the hayward's wage was 4d. and a peck of maslin for every yardland. (fn. 205) By that date the regulation of agriculture was beginning to predominate in the court's work. Earlier the range of bussiness, which was exceedingly various, included the hearing of cases of debt, theft, and assault. (fn. 206) In 1470 the village possessed stocks, cucking-stool, and pillory. (fn. 207) A theft was punished by pillory in 1515. The stocks were renewed in 1526 and were still in use in 1601. (fn. 208)
There is little evidence of local industries other than agriculture. Cloth was being fulled and dyed in the village in 1456; in 1543 Thomas Harres, fuller, obtained a licence to erect 'a fuller's teynter' on the green for an annual rent of 2d., and in 1619 Thomas Bull was paying 2s. 6d. annually 'for the Fuller's Racke in Oldburie', the field immediately east of the church. (fn. 209) The Prior of Bicester had a quarry which was being worked in 1425. (fn. 210) A quarry near the mill was leased in 1526 to Thomas Swetnam and in 1619 to Thomas Bull. (fn. 211) A Kirtlington limekiln contributed to the building of Cardinal College. (fn. 212) In 1638 Richard Hall was elected and sworn as clerk of the market and water bailiff, (fn. 213) an office which, possibly owing to the gaps in the court rolls, is not found again. Plot's map (1676) (fn. 214) shows Kirtlington as a market-town. A modern industrial undertaking was the building of the Oxford Cement Company's works beside the canal in 1905, (fn. 215) but they were abandoned after 20 years when the present works were built on the other side of the river.
The parish has always had a larger population than most others in the hundred. In Domesday Book Kirtlington, excluding Northbrook, had 71 villeins, bordars, and serfs; (fn. 216) this figure, however, probably includes Bignell. In the 1279 survey about 90 landholders, free and unfree, are named in the returns for Kirtlington and Northbrook. (fn. 217) The hearth-tax returns for 1662 and 1665 show the existence of at least 65 households; (fn. 218) then, as in 1801, (fn. 219) Kirtlington was exceeded in population only by Bicester and Islip of the parishes in the hundred. Bishop Compton's Census (1676) showed a total of 285 persons over the age of sixteen. (fn. 220) In 1738 and 1759 the number of houses was 99; in 1811, when the census showed 536 residents, there were said to be 131 families. (fn. 221) The birth rate in the early 17th century was not regularly exceeded until the sharp rise of the second decade of the 19th century. There were 167 baptisms in the decade 1623–32, 148 in 1723–32 and 236 in 1823–32. (fn. 222) The population rose to 761 in 1871, had fallen to 594 in 1901, and was 636 in 1951. (fn. 223)
Assessments to taxation in the first half of the 14th century suggest that Kirtlington, with Northbrook, was one of the wealthiest parishes in Ploughley hundred. Charlton and Islip each had a higher assessment in 1306, Chesterton and Bicester Market End in 1316; but in 1327 and 1344 only Bicester Market End exceeded the assessment of Kirtlington with Northbrook. (fn. 224) Forty-eight persons, including 12 from Northbrook, contributed about £6 8s. 9d. for the 16th of 1316; 44, including 13 from Northbrook, £5 14s. 9d. for the 20th of 1327. (fn. 225) In 1523 the assessment of Kirtlington and Northbrook (£17 4s. 10d. on the two payments) for the lay subsidy was exceeded by assessments of Somerton, Chesterton, and Bletchingdon. (fn. 226)
The degree of poverty existing in the parish at various times is difficult to assess. In c. 1789 many families with children were living on earnings of 6s. a week. (fn. 227) In 1802–3 the figure spent on maintenance and relief of the poor had increased steeply to £476 17s. 6d. from an average of less than £200 in the years 1783–5. (fn. 228) Of a total population of 525, (fn. 229) 75 persons, of whom 39 were adults, were permanently relieved out of the poor rate, and 13 others received occasional relief. Twenty-eight of these cases were due to old age or permanent disability. In 1840 the parish owned four cottages on the green; they were known as the College and served as an almshouse for several families of the labouring poor. (fn. 230)
In 1562 the inhabitants of Kirtlington received a royal charter exempting them from payment of toll elsewhere than in the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 231) It was said in 1723 that this privilege was the reason for the village's annual feast, called the Lamb Ale. (fn. 232) This was a long-established celebration in 1679. At that date it began on Trinity Monday and lasted two days; later it apparently occupied a whole week. In 1849 three persons were sworn as special constables 'for the better preservation of peace and order at the ensuing Lamb Ale Feast'. (fn. 233) The feast was discontinued in the 19th century, but has been revived in a modified form.
There can be little doubt that there was a Saxon church at Kirtlington, which was an important royal manor, but the earliest indication of its existence comes from Domesday Book. It records that Osmund the priest held in demesne in 1086 a hide of land worth 20s. (fn. 234) The church was conferred by Jordan and Lucy de Sai on the Norman abbey of Aulnay, a Cistercian house founded by them in 1131. (fn. 235) The appropriation to Aulnay was confirmed by Henry II in 1157, (fn. 236) by Bishop Robert de Chesney (at the petition of Richard de Humez), and by Pope Lucius III. (fn. 237) The benefice was one of the most valuable in the deanery, being assessed at £20 13s. 4d. including the vicarage, both in 1291 and in 1341–2. (fn. 238) Hostilities with France made the king take the revenues of the church into his own hand in 1324, and again in 1337. (fn. 239) In the latter year it was arranged that the abbey's proctor should have custody of its possessions in England at a farm of £46 a year; this amount was increased to £50, and the advowson of the living retained in the king's hand, in 1342. (fn. 240) In 1392 licence was given by the Crown to the new Carthusian Priory of St. Anne's, Coventry, to acquire in parcellam fundacionis the church and advowson of Kirtlington, along with Aulnay's other English property. (fn. 241) In 1535 it was being farmed under a 31-year lease, dated 1515, by John Andrews of Kirtlington for a rent of £13 13s. 4d. and the obligation to pay certain other charges totalling 50s. annually. (fn. 242) At the Dissolution, a syndicate of some 77 persons, mostly Londoners, bought the rectory and advowson, (fn. 243) but the sale was evidently not completed; and, by a deed dated 17 November 1545, the living was acquired by John Penne, armiger, and Lucia, his wife, to be held by service of 1/40 knight's fee and annual payment of 26s. 8d. to the Crown. (fn. 244) A year later the Pennes sold it to Vincent Poure, armiger, of Bletchingdon Park; (fn. 245) and in April 1578 it was bought from Francis Poure by St. John's College, Oxford, for £800, its yearly value then being £46 13s. 4d. (fn. 246) In 1675 the impropriation was rented for more than £180 a year, although to the incumbent the living was worth only £22. (fn. 247) By the inclosure award of 1811 payments on the great tithes were commuted for 301 acres of land, while the glebe was exchanged for a further 93 acres. (fn. 248) The college still holds the advowson, but sold its rectorial rights to Sir Henry Dashwood in 1876. (fn. 249) A chapel existed at Northbrook in the 12th century; it belonged to the Gays, who gave the Northbrook tithes to Aulnay. (fn. 250) Oseney Abbey, however, which acquired the church of Hampton Gay c. 1185, (fn. 251) alleged that Northbrook was a part of Hampton Gay parish (fn. 252) and could also advance spurious evidence of its right to two-thirds of the demesne tithes of Northbrook. (fn. 253) In an arbitration of July 1190 the former claim was not upheld, but Oseney's right to the tithes was substantially maintained. (fn. 254) The Oseney tithe in Northbrook was worth 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 255) In 1413, after further friction, Oseney agreed to farm its share of the Northbrook tithe to St. Anne's, Coventry, in perpetuity for 16s. 8d. a year. (fn. 256)
An agreement of 1263, which cites a previous agreement of 1228, between Aulnay and Bicester Priory, shows that Bicester enjoyed tithe of hay on certain meadows of the Kirtlington demesne. (fn. 257) There was also bitter dispute between these two houses over the tithe of sheaves of Bignell, which although a 'member' of Kirtlington manor was infra territorium de Berencestr'. In 1304 it was agreed that Bicester should have this tithe at a perpetual farm of 40s. a year. (fn. 258) At the Dissolution St. Anne's, Coventry, was receiving 51s. yearly from Bicester, of which 11s. may have been tithe on the mill. (fn. 259)
A vicarage was ordained during the episcopate of Hugh de Welles (1209–35), by which the vicar was to receive the proceeds of the altar, rent of 23s. 4d. from land belonging to the church, and 32 sheaves of corn, valued at 15s., which the church received from the demesne of Roger Damory in Bletchingdon. (fn. 260) In 1254 the vicarage was valued at 40s. and in 1291 at £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 261) The Hundred Rolls give a list of the vicar's six free tenants, holding in all 4 virgates and paying 24s. 7d. rent. (fn. 262) By 1341 it appears that there had been a change in the ordination of the vicarage, for the vicar was then receiving the small tithes, mortuaries, and oblations, valued in all at £4 3s. 8d., while the glebe, by this time worth 52s., and the great tithes belonged to Aulnay. (fn. 263) In the 16th century Kirtlington was a rich vicarage, valued at £11 9s. 4d. net. (fn. 264)
After the Reformation the value of the vicarage rose slowly, being worth £22 in 1675 (fn. 265) and about £24 during Queen Anne's reign. (fn. 266) In 1731 it was given £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty, (fn. 267) with which was bought a farm of 64 acres in Eynsham parish, part of the pasture called Freeland. (fn. 268) This farm and Vicarage Farm in Kirtlington, consisting of the 179 acres awarded the vicar when the small tithes were commuted at the inclosure award in 1811, (fn. 269) formed the vicarage's only endowment in the 19th century, being worth £358 in 1831. (fn. 270) Vicarage Farm was sold to the Earl of Leven and Melville in 1916. (fn. 271)
Some of the medieval vicars had unusually long connexions with the parish. Gilbert de Wardington was vicar from 1302 until probably carried off by the Black Death in 1349; (fn. 272) Thomas de Pytchley, a lessee of the manor's demesne lands, was vicar for almost 40 years (1352–c. 1390); (fn. 273) and the 15thcentury vicar, William Coston or Constantyn (c. 1422–60), also remained for about 40 years. Two of the vicars left doubtful reputations: Jordan, early in the 13th century, was defamed with a woman of Kirtlington, and threatened with deprivation if again found incontinent, (fn. 274) while in 1391 William Grene, who had goods worth £40, was outlawed for killing a man at Kirtlington. (fn. 275)
In the 13th century a house to be used as a Vicarage was acquired by Aulnay Abbey from Bicester Priory. (fn. 276) This is, of course, to be distinguished from the Rectory House, which existed in 1665 (fn. 277) and was included in the property leased to the farmers of the rectory. There was sometimes a curate in the parish in the sixteenth century. (fn. 278) Eighteenth-century vicars, who were often Fellows of St. John's College dividing their time between Oxford and Kirtlington, were never more than part-time residents in the parish. (fn. 279) In 1738 the vicar did not reside at all, and his curate, who was also appointed by St. John's College, usually stayed one night in each week in order to conduct the two Sunday services. Most vicars at this period, however, did not have curates, although in 1814 a licensed curate was resident in the Vicarage, the vicar being non-resident. In addition to the two Sunday services, the Sacrament was administered four times annually, the number of communicants varying between 25 and 40 during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Vicarage House was situated on the north side of the church, (fn. 280) but in 1840 St. John's College built a new Vicarage adjacent to the church on the south. (fn. 281) This was sold shortly before the Second World War, when the present Vicarage was built.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN comprises a nave, chancel, north and south aisles (the south aisle prolonged to form a transept), south porch, and central tower. The tympanum now over the vestry doorway is early 12th century and the foundations of an apse were discovered beneath the chancel in 1877. (fn. 282) This was thought at the time to have been Saxon, but was more probably contemporary with the tower-arches, which date from the early 12th century. The eastern arch has been much restored, but the western arch retains its original jambs and imposts. The heads terminating the moulding on its western face are, however, later additions. The chancel was rebuilt on a rectangular plan later in the 12th century, but has been so heavily restored that none of its original features remain.
The aisled nave of three bays was built in the mid-13th century. The north aisle had a doorway, now blocked, and a 13th-century piscina shows that the chapel of St. Mary on the south side of the tower was built at the same period. Some of the capitals of the nave arcade are decorated with foliage sculpture, and one of the hood-moulds terminates in the head of a woman wearing a nose-band. (fn. 283) The east and west windows and the south and west doorways were inserted in the 14th century. The south porch and the clerestory were added in the 15th century. At the same time the wall of the south aisle, which had perhaps been pushed outwards by the original high-pitched roof, was rebuilt and given new windows. (fn. 284)
The pulpit is Jacobean. In 1661 six of the villagers were 'at the charge to beautify this church'. (fn. 285) The work perhaps included the hanging of the royal arms over the chancel arch, where they remained until 1854. (fn. 286)
Sir Robert Dashwood, whose 'black' was buried in the chancel in 1691, (fn. 287) converted the south transept into a family vault and chapel in 1716, the transept then being ruinous. (fn. 288) The wrought-iron gates bearing the Dashwood arms are said to have come from Northbrook House. (fn. 289) He also constructed a gallery across the west end (1726). (fn. 290) In 1757 the church needed extensive repairs. (fn. 291) In 1761 'the parish church of Kirtlington having of late been very ruinous, as well in the body and structure, as in the pews, and other parts of the inside thereof, Sir James Dashwood 'repaired, new-pewed and decorated' it at his own cost. (fn. 292) In 1770, however, the tower was pulled down as unsafe. (fn. 293) Sir James Dashwood's legacy of £300 for its rebuilding was not taken up (1779), (fn. 294) and the church was without a tower for 80 years. (fn. 295) Between 1852 and 1854 the church was restored, partly at Sir George Dashwood's expense. (fn. 296) The work included the building of the present tower (architect Benjamin Ferrey), the erection of internal and external buttresses to support the wall of the north aisle, the removal of the gallery and the old square pews, paving with Minton tiles, and the installation of a new font. In 1877 the chancel was very thoroughly restored by Sir G. Gilbert Scott at Sir Henry and Lady Dashwood's expense. (fn. 297) Some further restoration was done in 1891 and 1905. (fn. 298)
Wall-paintings of St. George and St. Christopher, which were rediscovered in 1905, are mainly of the late 15th century. (fn. 299)
The organ was placed in the Dashwood chapel in 1877; since about 1839, when 'the old Church band of clarinet and bassoon' had been done away with, singing had been accompanied by a barrel-organ. (fn. 300) The organ obscures a monument, made by William and Thomas Williams of Middleton Stoney in 1724, to many of the Dashwoods (including the first three baronets) on the east wall of the transept, a 13thcentury piscina in the south wall, and a number of hatchments. (fn. 301)
Brass plates in the south transept and chancel commemorate the 4th and 5th baronets. The earliest monuments are of the 17th century. An undated tablet in the north aisle commemorates Rowland Bennet, who acquired Bennet's Farm at Northbrook in 1605; (fn. 302) three other 17th-century tablets to members of the Hall family are on the exterior of the south wall. The only 18th-century wall monuments, other than the Dashwood memorial, are to James Evans, described as regius satelles (i.e. a royal sergeant) (d. 1702), and Ralph Rawlins of Northbrook (d. 1725) and Mary his wife, who died at the age of 97. In the nave is a tablet to John David, Earl of Leven and Melville (d. 1913). There are also two tablets to 19th-century incumbents, both Fellows of St. John's: James Saunders (d. 1838) and James Guillemard (d. 1858).
In 1552 the church owned a chalice, two copes, and four vestments, and there was a light with lands worth 1s. a year. (fn. 303) A silver-gilt service, consisting of chalice, paten cover, large paten, pair of flagons, and an almsplate, were given by Sir Robert Dashwood in 1723. (fn. 304) Nearly all the bells, and also the sanctus bell, date from 1718, when the original peal of five was increased to eight at the Dashwoods' expense. (fn. 305)
The parish registers earlier than 1800 have been lost, with the exception of one for the years 1558– 1699, (fn. 306) and a register of marriages for 1754–1818.
In the late 16th and early 17th centuries the holders of the manor, the Ardens, of the same family as the Ardens of Cottisford, (fn. 307) were Roman Catholics. Henry Arden was fined in 1592, (fn. 308) and Jane and Mary Arden some years later. (fn. 309) The latter was still a recusant in 1643, as was Margaret Arden, (fn. 310) who married George Napier (d. 1671), a prominent Oxford Catholic. (fn. 311) There were also a number of other Catholics, including several yeomen. (fn. 312) George Napier, 'the martyr' (d. 1610), is said to have been arrested in Kirtlington. (fn. 313) In the second half of the century Roman Catholicism died out; there was only one Catholic both in 1676 and 1706. (fn. 314)
Four Protestant nonconformists were listed in 1676, (fn. 315) but otherwise dissent scarcely existed until the early 19th century. In 1821 the first meetinghouse was licensed, and several others were licensed in the next ten years. (fn. 316) By 1824 Kirtlington was in the Oxford Methodist Circuit, (fn. 317) and in 1830 a Wesleyan chapel was built, (fn. 318) which was replaced in 1852 by the present chapel, 'a very neat stone building' served by local preachers. (fn. 319) At that time the congregation was said to number between 70 and 100; (fn. 320) some were described by the incumbent as 'bigoted Dissenters'. He also stated, incorrectly it seems, that there were two dissenting places of worship, a Wesleyan and a Reformed Methodist. (fn. 321) In 1867 the chapel came under the United Methodist Free Church organization. (fn. 322) There are now (1954) about six members. (fn. 323)
In 1583 John Phillips, an Oxfordshire woollen draper, bequeathed a house in Woodstock, rented at £1 a year, towards the finding of a Schoolmaster in Kirtlington, if it shall fortune any school to be built or erected there'. (fn. 324) A free school for 32 poor children appears to have been founded by 1603, (fn. 325) but no building had been erected by 1613, when a tenement called the Church House was being used as 'a schoolhouse, courthouse and townhouse', and when it was alleged that the Ardens (fn. 326) had failed to implement the terms of Phillips's bequest. The Commissioners for Charitable Uses appointed trustees for the Church House, which continued to serve as a school, and ordered that the endowment should be used as originally intended. (fn. 327)
In 1702 it was complained that the rents, then £6 a year, were often paid to a schoolmistress: a new master was therefore appointed. (fn. 328) By 1759 the school had closed, as the Woodstock property was too decayed to yield any rent. (fn. 329) In 1766 the property was let to the Duke of Marlborough on a repairing lease at a rent of £4 4s. a year. (fn. 330) Between 1774 and 1778 the school reopened with Sir James Dashwood and the vicar as its governors (fn. 331) and was subsequently supported by the Dashwoods as well as by the endowment. It had 30 pupils, 22 of them free scholars, in 1808, but taught only reading to the boys and reading and plain sewing to the girls. (fn. 332) Instruction in the catechism had been introduced by 1811. (fn. 333) In 1824 the £4 4s. rent was being used to pay part of the expense of teaching and clothing the free scholars, then 20 in number, Sir Henry Dashwood meeting the rest. (fn. 334) By 1833 the endowed school appears to have been virtually amalgamated with two other schools which had been founded in the village. (fn. 335)
Two 'common day schools for the poorer class', with 15 and 8 pupils respectively, had appeared by 1808. (fn. 336) One of these may have been the infants' school with 20 pupils which was supported by Sir Henry Dashwood and the parents in 1815. The other was replaced by a day school opened in 1814 which was supported by the weekly payments of the scholars, and which received the children who left the infants' school at the age of five. It was run on the National Society's plan, which was unpopular with the wealthier farmers since it put their children 'on a level with the poor', and because its methods of instruction seemed too elementary, especially when they were used to 'hear their children read, as they imagined well, in the Bible'. There were 41 children on the books, but attendance was so irregular that 'from want of practice the teachers are unequal to their office'. (fn. 337)
In 1833 (fn. 338) the three schools had an attendance of 40 boys, 34 girls and 64 infants. (fn. 339) New buildings were erected in 1834 on land leased from Sir George Dashwood. (fn. 340) Evening classes in winter and a singing class for adults were held in 1854. (fn. 341) As late as 1871 there were said to be three schools, (fn. 342) but it is likely that they had long been three departments— boys, girls, and infants—of the same school. In 1867 the endowment, no doubt augmented by the Dashwoods, amounted to £40 a year. Some pupils paid 2d. to 6d. a week, and there were three teachers, a certificated master, a sewing-mistress, and an infantmistress. Attendance figures were 96 in 1867, 133 in 1889, and 111 in 1906. (fn. 343) Senior pupils from Bletchingdon came to Kirtlington from 1928 to 1947, when the school was reorganized for juniors and infants, and seniors were transferred to Woodstock Voluntary Secondary School. Kirtlington school was given aided status in 1951, and there were 91 pupils on the books in 1937 and 83 in 1954. (fn. 344) The endowment brought an income of £72 a year in 1955. (fn. 345)
By will dated 1616 John Whicker, a London merchant, son of Adrian Whicker (vicar 1599–1616), left about 6 acres of land in Ambrosden to endow a charity for poor widows of Kirtlington. (fn. 346) In the 1820's the rent of the land, £8, was distributed annually to poor widows and widowers, each receiving from 6s. to 9s. (fn. 347) The income was £6 in 1954, when it was distributed to old people at Christmas. (fn. 348)
Robert Slatter gave £3 to the poor in 1649, and in 1664 six benefactors gave £2. These two charities, which were producing 3s. and 2s. a year respectively in 1786, (fn. 349) had been amalgamated under the name of Slatter's Charity by 1824, when 5s. was annually divided among ten poor widows. (fn. 350) Slatter's Charity was still in existence in 1852, (fn. 351) but it appears to have subsequently lapsed.
By the inclosure award of 1815 10 acres in Breach Furze were awarded to trustees for the poor in lieu of the poor's right of cutting furze for fuel on the Breach Common. (fn. 352) In 1954 this land was let at £12 10s. a year, and the rent was distributed to old people at Christmas in cash, instead of in the customary coal. (fn. 353)