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 southern borders of Northamptonshire, mid-way between the market-towns of Banbury and Bicester. The area of the ancient parish, 1,496 acres, was unchanged in 1951. (fn. 1) The county boundary which runs through the southern end of Aynho Park and follows Ockley Brook bounds the parish on the north; the Cherwell forms the western and the Aynho and Somerton roads most of the eastern and southern boundaries. (fn. 2)
The eastern edge of the parish lies on the Great Oolite, with a belt of Inferior Oolite forming a ring round the village, and the Upper Lias Clay and Marlstone appear between the latter and the alluvium of the Cherwell valley. (fn. 3) The surface soil is composed of sand and stonebrash on the high ground, clay and loam near the river; and the subsoil, which varies in different parts of the parish, consists of limestone, ironstone, clay, and gravel. (fn. 4) The white limestone has been much quarried for building purposes and roadmaking, but the ironstone is not known to have been worked. (fn. 5) Most of the parish lies within the 300-foot contour, except for the river meadowland, which is liable to flooding, and the plateau on the eastern side which rises to over 400 feet above sea level. At the edge of the scarp there are a number of springs which give a good water-supply.
The pre-Roman Portway may have crossed the parish from north to south, and the important medieval highway between Bicester and Banbury was made a turnpike in 1791. (fn. 6) A toll-gate near the eastern approach to the village was removed in 1876. (fn. 7) The toll-house still remains. A number of 'private highways' were created by the inclosure decree: these included 'from the turnpike to Chadwell Gate' (i.e. Mill Road), and from the town well to the church. (fn. 8)
Sections of two former G.W.R. lines, Oxford to Banbury, completed in 1850, and the main Birmingham to London line, completed in 1910, (fn. 9) and the Oxford Canal, completed in 1790, run along the east bank of the Cherwell. The nearest station, Aynho Park, lies over the county border three miles distant. A canal wharf was built and connected to the village by Wharf Lane (originally called 'Haleway'), so that Souldern, like other parishes bordering the canal, was able to enjoy cheap coal. (fn. 10)
The village lies near the parish boundary on the southern edge of Aynho Park, well protected by trees on the north and by the high land to the east. (fn. 11) Despite its comparatively high position it appears to have been unhealthy: the death-rate among children was high; in 1855 there was a severe cholera epidemic; and later the local historian Wing noted that Souldern was liable to a sort of fever, which was never long absent. (fn. 12) The main village street runs from east to west with two roads branching off to the south, and one at the east end by the town well runs north and down the hill past the site of the one-time manorhouse (see below) and the church to Ockley Brook. In the 17th century and later there was an open green and a bowling-green between Souldern Gate and the village; these were given to the use of the poor by the 1613 inclosure award. (fn. 13) A late-18thcentury map shows the village as triangular in shape with three grass closes in the middle. A green is also shown in front of the church. (fn. 14) Souldern's name, meaning thorn-bush in a gully (O.E. Sulh-porn), suggests that the original settlement was mainly by the church and the manor. (fn. 15) The village had an unusual number of substantial houses in the second half of the 17th century. Out of seventeen houses listed for the hearth tax in 1665 three were gentlemen's houses: the manor-house of the Weedons and Richard Kilby's were each taxed on ten hearths and a third on eleven hearths, which was probably the Rectory. (fn. 16) In addition there were three farm-houses with four hearths apiece. (fn. 17)
The village is still a beautiful and well-preserved example of building with local materials. Most of the dwellings, many of them substantial houses, are stone-built and have stone slates or thatch on their roofs. The prevailing colour is silver-grey with patches of yellow lichen. Among the many early buildings that survive, the following are the most notable. The Court was probably built about 1600. Its plan is L-shaped and it has two stories with a cellar and attic dormers. The date 1666 can be seen on the garden gateway and there have been many other alterations and additions in later periods. The Hollies is also L-shaped in plan and dates from about 1600. It has preserved its original stone-mullioned windows of three or four lights and a later stone fireplace. The Barn House, although much restored, was also originally a 16th-century or possibly an early 17th-century building. Rectangular in plan, it has two stories with a cellar and hipped dormers. The ground floor has four-light windows with stone mullions, the first floor three-light windows with stone mullions. Greystones is similar in plan, but has a steep-pitched roof of thatch. Its windows have moulded stone frames and square labels. Souldern House (formerly Souldern Lodge) is in origin another early 17th-century house of rectangular plan. It has two stories, cellar, and attic dormers. The house was for several centuries the home of the Gough family and a gazebo in the garden is dated 'R. G(ough) 1706'. (fn. 18) The Hermitage is also rectangular in plan; it has two stories and attic dormers and is of two builds, the west being of 16th-century date and the east of 18th-century date. The house is mainly built of coursed rubble but the gables are coped with dressed stone. Its 17th-century staircase is said to have come from the Court. (fn. 19)
The present manor-house, formerly called Souldern House, stands on the brow of the hill at the western end of the village street. It is built of coursed rubble and was probably erected in the second half of the 17th century, as the date 1665 appears on the stone-work of one of the rooms formerly known as the 'old vestry'. The west front has two projecting gabled wings with stone finials, and the main entrance on this side was once surmounted by a cupola. The house has been considerably altered in later periods, notably in 1850 and in 1955–6 for Lord Bicester. The Roman Catholic chapel standing in the grounds, erected in 1869, consists of an old stone outhouse and a brick extension. (fn. 20) The manor used to be approached by a fine avenue of sycamore trees, but only a few of these remained at the end of the 19th century when Blomfield described the house. (fn. 21) The history of this house is uncertain: Blomfield thought it was built by Bernard Weedon (d. 1679), who returned ten hearths for the tax of 1665, and that after the Weedons had moved to Staffordshire it was let to the Kilby family from 1679 until Robert Kilby's death in 1757. (fn. 22) The Kilbys already had one substantial house in Souldern in 1665, (fn. 23) and in 1717 Robert Kilby was reported to have a freehold estate in Souldern and 'Hyett House in his own possession'. (fn. 24) About the same time Rawlinson noted that a Mr. Cox was occupying the manor-house. (fn. 25) This must have been Samuel Cox, the husband of Alice Kilby and father of Samuel Cox, the infant lord of the manor, who finally came to reside in 1757. (fn. 26)
Mention should also be made of Manor Farm's fine stone barn, on the outskirts of the village. It is 75 feet long, has oak rafters, and had a thatched roof until about 1950.
The medieval manor-house was situated on the east side of the road leading to the church, but it seems to have become a ruin at an early date. A map of 1767 shows no house south of the church and by the 19th century only its foundations and fishponds marked its site in Great House Close. (fn. 27)
Another house which has gone is the old Rectory. This stood north of the church and was built before 1638 by the rector Thomas Harding. (fn. 28) It was repaired in 1809 by Robert Jones, whom Wordsworth described as 'one of my earliest and dearest friends'. (fn. 29) Wordsworth stayed in the house, probably in 1820, and afterwards wrote the sonnet called 'A Parsonage in Oxfordshire'. (fn. 30) Later, in another sonnet, he described 'this humble and beautiful parsonage', and the church and churchyard. (fn. 31) The rectory had wellstocked fishponds in 1723 at least, when the rector noted that 31 brace of carp had been taken out of one. (fn. 32)
There was much modernization in the 18th and 19th centuries: for instance, the stone-mullioned windows of Souldern House, many at the Hermitage, and most of those at the manor-house were altered to sash windows. Rooms were panelled as at the Hollies, and many houses such as the manor-house and Souldern House were re-roofed with Welsh slate. But in the 19th century in particular new buildings were added to the village. By 1824 seventeen cottages for the poor had been built on the green; (fn. 33) a school and Wesleyan chapel (1869) were put up; (fn. 34) and in 1890 the old gabled Rectory, which seems to have been a house of some interest, (fn. 35) was pulled down and the present Rectory was built on a new site for £1,434 by the architect E. G. Bruton. (fn. 36)
In the 1850's there were three public houses, the 'Fox', the 'Crown', (fn. 37) and the 'Bull's Head'; the last was mentioned in 1784, when the 'Fox' was also licensed. (fn. 38) Only one licensed house is recorded in 1735 (fn. 39) and in 1939 there was again only one, the 'Fox'. (fn. 40)
There are a number of outlying farms: these seem to have been built as a result of the inclosure of the fields in 1613. Five are recorded in 1774, and Chisnell Farm, Hill House Farm, and three others are marked on a map of 1797. (fn. 41) All show architectural evidences of an earlier origin. Hill House is said to have been built by the Westcars: (fn. 42) it is L-shaped and has two stories with gabled dormers. The south-west wing is earlier in date than the south-east wing, which was probably added in the late 17th century. The main entrance, through a door-frame with fluted Doric-style pilasters and a dentilled cornice, is in the north-east front of this wing, which has six first-floor windows and six dormers. There is evidence that in the 18th century it had an ornamental Queen Anne garden with two summer-houses. (fn. 43)
During the Civil War the village suffered from the quartering of troops and requisitioning of food supplies by both the contending armies: in 1643, for instance, six regiments of parliamentary troops from London were quartered there; and in 1641 Souldern was ordered to send carts and provisions to the king at Oxford. (fn. 44)
In the 19th century Souldern Gate was well known as a meet of the Bicester Hunt. (fn. 45) Besides this sport, the village still enjoyed a number of its ancient feasts and customs. Children processed on St. Valentine's day and May Day, and the village feast beginning on 18th September lasted a week. It was accompanied by a fair. (fn. 46)
Thomas Harding (d. 1648), an eminent scholar and schoolmaster, was Rector of Souldern. (fn. 47) Later in the century Mrs. Bryan Stapleton (d. 1919), author of Catholic Missions in Oxfordshire, was brought up at Souldern House, then locally important as a centre of Roman Catholicism. (fn. 48)
No Domesday manor has yet been identified with SOULDERN, (fn. 49) but the exceptional privileges it is known to have possessed in the 13th century were said to date from the Conquest. It is not impossible that it was among the lands in divers counties that were granted to Robert de Rumilly by the Conqueror and that it was inherited by his daughter Lucy, the wife of Jordan de Say, lord of extensive estates including another Oxfordshire manor of exceptional importance, the nearby Kirtlington. He granted Souldern Church to Eynsham Abbey some time before 1161, when his son William was buried there. Another son Ranulf witnessed the grant. (fn. 50) Souldern became attached to the honor of Richard's Castle by the marriage of Eustachia de Say to Hugh FitzOsbern, who was dead by 1140. (fn. 51) Eustachia was co-foundress of Westwood Nunnery (Worcs.), (fn. 52) and was of sufficient importance for her sons Osborn and Hugh to adopt Say as their surname. Osborn died about 1185, and his brother Hugh, who succeeded him, married Lucy, daughter of Walter de Clifford, by whom he had at least three sons and a daughter Lucy. Hugh died about 1190, and his eldest son Hugh died some six years later. (fn. 53) Lucy married Thomas de Arderne, (fn. 54) a tenant of the honor of Richard's Castle at Astwood Savage (Worcs.), (fn. 55) to whom her brother Hugh gave Souldern manor in exchange for Kingston manor in Yeovil (Som.). (fn. 56)
The overlordship of Souldern continued to follow the descent of the honor of Richard's Castle. (fn. 57) Hugh de Say, Lucy's brother, was succeeded by his daughter Margaret, and Richard's Castle was held by her and her three husbands, Hugh Ferrers (d. 1204), Robert Mortimer (d. 1219), and William de Stuteville. Margaret died in 1242, and William held the overlordship of Souldern (fn. 58) until his death in 1259. It then passed to Hugh Mortimer, Margaret's son by Robert, and followed the descent of the Mortimers of Richard's Castle, (fn. 59) who as the 'heirs of Say' were overlords of Souldern in 1279. (fn. 60) On the death of Hugh (II) Mortimer in 1304 Richard's Castle was inherited by one of his daughters, Joan, whose first husband Thomas de Bykenore was overlord of Souldern in 1316. (fn. 61) Thomas died without issue, and Joan's possessions eventually passed to John, her son by her second husband Richard Talbot. (fn. 62) John was overlord of Souldern in 1346, the last occasion on which the overlordship is mentioned. (fn. 63)
Thomas de Arderne was dead by 1231 (fn. 64) and his widow Lucy continued to hold Souldern in free marriage. (fn. 65) By 1255 she had been succeeded by Ralph de Arderne, (fn. 66) presumably her son, who may have died by 1259 when another Thomas de Arderne was holding the family lands at Astwood Savage (Worcs.). (fn. 67) By 1278 (fn. 68) Souldern was held of Thomas by Lucy—a granddaughter of the first Lucy de Arderne (fn. 69) and therefore probably his sister—and her husband Thomas de Lewknor of Greatworth (Northants). (fn. 70) The hundredal inquisitions of 1279 show that Souldern was an especially privileged manor, 'manerium liberum in se', whose lords had enjoyed free warren, waifs, view of frankpledge and freedom from suit of hundred ever since the Conquest. Thomas de Lewknor owed a pound of cumin every year to Thomas de Arderne, the mesne lord, (fn. 71) but neither of them seems to have owed any military service for the manor, although it was described as ½ knight's fee in 1255 and as a whole fee in 1285. (fn. 72) In 1243 Lucy de Arderne had been said to owe no scutage for Souldern. (fn. 73) In 1285 Thomas de Arderne conveyed his annual rent of a pound of cumin to John de Lovetot, (fn. 74) who may be identified as the Justice of the Common Pleas who was removed on charges of extortion in 1289. (fn. 75) He died in 1294 and the mesne lordship of Souldern (fn. 76) passed to his son John. (fn. 77) By 1316, however, the manor was said to be held directly of the honor of Richard's Castle. (fn. 78)
Thomas de Lewknor was dead by 1305, (fn. 79) and by 1307 his widow Lucy had apparently conveyed the manor to Master Thomas de Abberbury, who died in possession in that year. (fn. 80) The Abberbury family took its name from Adderbury, but was subsequently most closely connected with Donnington (Berks.), another of Thomas's acquisitions. Thomas was succeeded in turn by his brother Walter and by his nephew Richard. (fn. 81) John de Lewknor, possibly a son of Lucy and Thomas, and a certain William de Tingewike entered the manor by force. Later William obtained a formal grant of it from John and died in possession in 1316. (fn. 82) Richard de Abberbury had regained Souldern by 1323, (fn. 83) and held it at his death in 1333, when it passed to his son John. (fn. 84) John died without issue in 1346, and Souldern passed to his uncle Thomas, (fn. 85) perhaps the Thomas de Abberbury who held lands in Wootton in 1316. (fn. 86) Thomas was succeeded by his son Richard, the most distinguished member of the family, by 1362. (fn. 87) Richard was a knight of the shire for Oxfordshire in 1373 and 1387, and a royal servant. He is best known for his rebuilding of Donnington castle and his endowment of Donnington Hospital. (fn. 88) Both the hospital and the Crutched Friars of Donnington received grants of lands and rents in Souldern from Sir Richard. (fn. 89) The latter was dead by 1401 (fn. 90) and was probably succeeded first by his brother Thomas, who had lands in Souldern in 1399, (fn. 91) and then by Thomas's son Richard. (fn. 92)
The younger Richard married Alice, widow of Edmund Danvers of Chilton (Berks.), (fn. 93) but had no children. By 1415 his heir presumptive was probably Sir Richard Arches, the son of his sister Lucy, (fn. 94) to whom with other feoffees he conveyed Souldern manor in that year. (fn. 95) Richard Abberbury, on the grounds of a defect in his uncle's grant, seized the Crutched Friars' Souldern lands and in 1448 granted them to William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, (fn. 96) on whose death in 1450 they were put in custody of his widow Alice. (fn. 97) Sir Richard Arches, whose father was perhaps Simon Arches of Waddesdon (Bucks.), (fn. 98) died in 1417. His only son John died without issue, and Souldern manor descended to his daughter Joan and her husband Sir John Dynham. (fn. 99) Sir John died in 1458 (fn. 100) and Joan retained the manor (fn. 101) as her own inheritance until her death in 1497, when she was succeeded by her son, another Sir John Dynham, who died in 1501. (fn. 102)
The Dynham estates were then divided among four coheirs, Sir John's two surviving sisters Elizabeth and Joan, and his nephews, Sir Edmund Carew, son of Margery Dynham and Sir John Carew, and Sir John Arundell of Lanheme, son of Katherine Dynham and Sir Thomas Arundell. (fn. 103) Souldern manor was divided into four parts, each of which pursued a separate descent through out the 16th century. Shortly before his death in 1513 Sir Edmund Carew conveyed his quarter-share of another Dynham manor, Oving (Bucks.), to feoffees of Sir William Compton, (fn. 104) and it is likely that he conveyed his share of Souldern about the same time, for Sir William held a quarter of that manor at his death in 1528. (fn. 105) Under Sir William's grandson, Henry, Lord Compton, a quarter of Souldern appears to have been held by Anker Brente (fn. 106) of Little Wolford (Warws.), which was one of the Comptons' manors. (fn. 107) Sir John Arundell held a quarter of Souldern at his death in 1545, (fn. 108) and his share descended through his son Sir John (d. 1557) to his grandson, (fn. 109) a third Sir John, who died in 1590. (fn. 110) Elizabeth Dynham married three times: her first husband Fulk Bourchier, Lord Fitzwarine, died in 1479; her second, Sir John Sapcotes of Elton (Hunts.), in 1501; and her third, Sir Thomas Brandon, in 1510. (fn. 111) In 1509 Elizabeth settled her lands on herself and Sir Thomas for life, with reversion to Richard Sapcotes, her son by her second husband. (fn. 112) Richard duly succeeded her in 1516, and it is probable that he conveyed his share of Souldern as well as his share of Steeple Aston to Sir Michael Dormer of Ascot in 1539, for in 1547, two years after Sir Michael's death, there of his sons, Thomas, William, and Geoffrey, conveyed a quarter of Souldern manor to their brother John. (fn. 113) From John it appears to have descended to his third son John (see below), and in 1604 his niece Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Dormer of Yarnton, (fn. 114) and her husband John Stampe of Compton (Berks.) quitclaimed a quarter of Souldern to John Weedon. (fn. 115) The fourth share of Souldern passed from Joan Dynham to her son John, Lord Zouche, (fn. 116) but is lost to view from 1533 (fn. 117) until 1579, when it appears in the possession of Paul Tracy of Stanway (Glos.), who with his wife Anne and son Sir Richard conveyed it to John Weedon in 1604. (fn. 118)
It has been stated that the four quarters of the manor were sold to John Stutsbury of Souldern, (fn. 119) Robert Weedon and his son John by Henry, Lord Compton, Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, Paul Tracy, and John Dormer. Robert Weedon married John Stutsbury's daughter, (fn. 120) and at his death in 1598 held three-quarters of Souldern manor. (fn. 121) Robert must have acquired two quarters by 1590, Sir John Arundell having died in that year and Henry, Lord Compton, in 1589. John Dormer Still held his quarter of Steeple Aston in 1592. (fn. 122) The completion of the purchase of the manor seems to have been John Weedon's acquisition of Paul Tracy's quarter in 1604, and John certainly held the whole manor in 1615. (fn. 123)
The Weedons were Roman Catholics and in the Civil War their estates were sequestrated. Although it was alleged in 1646 that John Weedon had aided the rebels in Ireland before the war and the king throughout the war, he was permitted in 1653 to receive a third of the rents of his estates. (fn. 124) The family recovered their lands at the Restoration, and John seems to have died before 1665, when his son Bernard was living at Souldern. (fn. 125) Bernard died in 1679, and his son John in 1702. The last of the family to hold Souldern manor was another John, who died in 1710 and devised all his property there to Samuel Cox, the infant son of Samuel Cox of Farningham (Kent) and his wife Alice, daughter of Richard Kilby of Souldern. (fn. 126) John Weedon's brother William claimed, unsuccessfully, that John's will had been obtained by fraud, (fn. 127) but in 1718 he gave up his claim to the manor. (fn. 128) Samuel Cox was succeeded at his death in 1781 by his nephew Robert Kilby Cox. The latter resided occasionally at Souldern and died in 1828. His son and successor Samuel died childless in 1851, and the manor passed to Lt.-Col. Richard Snead Cox, a great-nephew of Robert Kilby Cox. (fn. 129) Lt.-Col. Snead Cox resided at Broxwood (Herefs.), and although called lord of Souldern manor in the 1860's was not subsequently given that title, and manorial rights may be said to have lapsed. (fn. 130)
Souldern cannot be identified with any Domesday village and it may have been omitted as it was so highly privileged a manor. (fn. 131) It is known to have belonged in the early 12th century to the important Say family, (fn. 132) but the earliest evidence for its economic history comes from the hundred rolls of 1279. The manor then had 41 virgates of arabel land, almost the same number as in the 17th century. Twelve were in demesne, 17½ were held in villeinage and 11½ freely. Besides its arable land, the large demesne had adjacent meadow and pasture, including Goldenham Meadow, along the Cherwell bank, and free fishing from this meadowa to Fritwell Meadow. (fn. 133) There was a group of 7 free tenants, holding 11½ virgates. The most prosperous was Thomas Silvester, who had the water-mill and 3 virgates, while 4 others had 5½ virgates between them, paying a rent of about 2s. a virgate, and Ralph de Arderne, no doubt a relative of the lord of the manor, held 2 virgates for 1d. Another virgate was held in free alms by the Prior of Banbury. (fn. 134) There were 10 villein virgaters and 15 half-Virgaters. The rent paid by the Souldern villein was unusually samall—19d. for a virgate, which may have meant that he had to perform unusually heavy services. All owed tallage and had to pay fines when their sons left the manor (redimere pueros).
No cottagers are mentioned in the Hundred Rolls, but an early 14th-century inquisition (fn. 135) lists sixteen besides about the same number of free tenants and villeins as that recorded in 1279. Thus the total number of landholders was about fifty. The tax lists of this period show a comparatively prosperous population, with between 30 and 35 people assessed, many of them relatively highly. The parish's total assessment ranks high among the medium group of contributors in the hundred. (fn. 136)
The next detailed information dates from the time of the early 17th-century inclosure. Before this 150 acres near Somerton Hedge had been inclosed, but the occasion for general inclosure was a dispute between the lord of the manor, who was bent on inclosing his demesne and extinguishing all right of common, and the freeholders. When the case was taken to law the judge advised the parties to accept the arbitration of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne of Wickham, and he ruled that the lands should be 'measured, divided and inclosed'. The parish was survedyed by William Jourden and the award ratified by Chancery in 1613. (fn. 137)
Out of 46 yardlands in the open fields, 12 belonged to the manor. There were 9 substantial freeholders with 2 or more yardlands, 5 with between 1 and 2 yardlands, and 8 with less than a yardland. There were also 12 cottages for the poor, each with common. (fn. 138) The largest allotment (350 acres) went to the lord of the manor, Edward Love of Aynho received 106 acres, and there were 6 allotments of between 50 and 100 acres, 9 of between 20and 50 acres, and 6 smaller ones. (fn. 139) The 12 cottagers were given 8 acres and the herbage alon Haleway and Chadwell, enough for a beast each; 13 acres were set aside for the poor at Cole's Cross, on the Green, and the 'Pitt and adjacent bowling place'; and the town meadow, which later lay along the west bank of the canal, seems to have continued as common land for the freeholders. It is mentioned at various times; in 1669, for example, the parishioners sold its second crop for £30. (fn. 140) This meadow and the common, 65 acres in all, were inclosed in 1856. (fn. 141)
At the end of the 17th century it was reckoned that there were 45½ yardlands instead of the 46 fo 1613, probably because of the many acres lost through the making of hedges and ditches. The yardland usually contained 30 or 32 acres, though some contained as many as 40 acress. (fn. 142) A common fraction, an eihth of a quarter, was equal tio an acre. (fn. 143) All yardlands were rated equally, except the seventeen belonging to the Weedons. Their lands, as they were so 'powerful', was subject to a lower rate. (fn. 144) There was also other land in the parish which was not rated at all and therefore not reckoned among the yardlands.
There were various changes after inclosure, some immediate and others gradual. A list of landowners in 1676 shows that there had been little change in the system of landholding since 1613: (fn. 145) the demesne had somewhat increased in size, and the size of the average estate had slightly decreased, but the parish still consisted largely of freeholders. Eight came from families which had been in the parish since the early 16th century. (fn. 146) By the mid-18th century the number of non-resident owners had probably increased, seven of the eighteen 40-shilling freeholders not living in the parish. (fn. 147) By 1842, when there is another complete survey, (fn. 148) freeholders farming their own land had almost disappeared. With one exception, all the farms were let to tenants; the few owner-occupiers with 10 acres or less depended on some trade for their living, two having bakeries, one a grocery, and one a smith's shop.
While some of the 17th-century yeoman families (e.g. Dodwell, Bower, Bignell, King) had disappeared, two prominent families of that period continued as landowners. One was the Cartwrights of Aynho (Northants), who from about 1660 owned the mill and 4 yardlands, (fn. 149) and by the 19th century nearly 300 acres. The other was the Gough family who owned about 3 yardlands in the 17th century. (fn. 150) They had bought some of the manor lands, (fn. 151) probably Chisnell Farm, by the 18th century, and in the 19th century owned some 200 acres. (fn. 152)
The effect of inclosure on the land was immediate First, large tracts of land were divided into smaller ones and hedged and ditched. (fn. 153) (These hedges, it was said, took up 60 acres of land.) Secondly, the amount of land used for meadow and pasture greatly increased. A possible reason for this may have been the scarcity of grass in neighbouring parishes and another the desire to keep tithes as low as possible. (fn. 154) While 16 or 18 teams were said to have been kept befor inclosure, by 1676 it was alleged that there were not more than five or six. It was alleged that 'quantities' of land had been converted to pasture, traces of ridge and furrow showing where this had been done, and that by then no more than a third or a quarter of the land was being ploughed. (fn. 155) The principal method of conversion seems to have been the sowing of sain- foin, which by about 1700 had at least doubled the value of the land since inclosure, (fn. 156) making it far more valuable than the open fields of Fritwell. (fn. 157)
Another change was that fattening stock had been substituted for breeding stock, and that the proportion of sheep to cattle in the parish in the late 17th century had been increased. (fn. 158) It continued largely as a grazing parish, in 1842 being a third arable and two-thirds meadow and pasture, (fn. 159) the same proportion as in the early 20th century. (fn. 160) The size of farms, however, changed little. In 1842 there were still as many as thirteen farms. They were mostly of 30 to 100 acres, only three being more than 100 acres. (fn. 161)
In the 17th century there is mention of an unusual number of trades. Of the four Dodwells in the village, one was a tailor and one a mercer; (fn. 162) there were also a smith, another tailor, a carpenter, a meason, (fn. 163) and a weaver. As at Banbury, cheese-making was an important farm-house industry. (fn. 164) In the early 20th century it is said that as many as fifteen cheesemakers were employed at Manor Farm. (fn. 165) Souldern still had a large number of craftsmen and small traders in the mid-19th century. In addition to three public houses (the 'Bull', the 'Crown', and the 'Fox'), there were two bakehouses, a brewhouse, a beerhouse, a shoemaker's shop, a wheelwright's shop, a carpenter's shop, two smith's shops, and a limekiln. (fn. 166) The village had three tailors and a milliner and, being in the stone country, eight masons amongst its craftsmen. Furthermore, the cottage industry of lacemaking flourished, having over 30 lacemakers in 1851. (fn. 167) At one time there were three lacemaking schools, but towards the end of the century the industry declined. (fn. 168) Millers have always been among the village's chief tradesmen. The mill, on Ockley Brook opposite Aynho, is first mentioned in 1279, when it was rented together with 3 virgates by a freeholder for 18s. (fn. 169) Unlike most mills, it became detached from the manor, and by the early 17th century belonged to Edward Love of Aynho. (fn. 170) It passed to the Cartwrights, and later in the century, when two mills are mentioned, they were being let for £20 with a ½ yeardland, (fn. 171) consisting of Floodgate Mead, Miller's Lam, Miller's Little Close, Mill Lane and Garden, Miller's Great Close, and Miller's Mead. (fn. 172) The second mill was not permanent, but one mill, which may have served Aynho as well as Souldern, being called Aynho mill in 1797, (fn. 173) was still being driven by water in 1920. (fn. 174) In 1939 there were still eight private tradesmen and the Banbury Co-operative store. (fn. 175)
The Compton census of 1676 provides the first clue to the number of villagers: it recorded 130 adults. (fn. 176) In the first half of the 18th century the incumbent noted that there were about 50 houses; he particularly noted that his figure included the houses of the poor which 'are many in proportion to the rest'. (fn. 177) Numbers rose in the second half of the century; about 60 houses are recorded in 1768 and in 1811 there were 93 houses for 96 families. (fn. 178) This overcrowding was partly remedied by 1851 in spite of the great increase in the number of inhabitants to 619, 225 more than there had been in 1801. They occupied 132 houses. By 1901 the agricultural depression had reduced the population to 406, and it has since dropped to 371 in 1951. (fn. 179)
The church was given before 1161 to Eynsham Abbey by Jordan de Say to commemorate the burial of his son William in the abbey. (fn. 180) The gift was confirmed by Archbishop Theobald (1139–61), and several times later. (fn. 181) Nevertheless Eynsham had often to defend its right to present; between 1209 and 1219, for instance, Robert Mortimer claimed the advowson, and the abbey, doubtless under compulsion, presented his nominee, but appealed to the bishop. (fn. 182) He evidently upheld Eynsham's right, for the abbey continued to present. In 1236, probably to avoid further question, the lady of the manor quitclaimed the advowson to the abbot for 12 marks. (fn. 183) During the vacancy of Eynsham in 1264 Bishop Gravesend, because of his unusual position as patron of the abbey, (fn. 184) collated, (fn. 185) although this privilege was usually reserved to the king during the vacancy of religious houses. In 1305, when litigation arose over the patronage between the abbot and the lady of the manor, the king's court decided in favour of Eynsham, (fn. 186) which remained patron until its dissolution in 1539, although in 1505 the abbey sold one presentation to John Lihinde of Fifield.
In 1544 the king sold the advowson to Sir Ralph Sadler, Master of the Great Wardrobe; (fn. 187) in 1551 John Hales of Coventry granted it to his brother Stephen; (fn. 188) but by 1562 William Holt of Stoke Lyne was patron. (fn. 189) From Hugh Throckmorton, patron in 1571, (fn. 190) who lived at Souldern and was lessee of the rectory as late as 1590, (fn. 191) descended for the next hundred years two rival claims to the advowson. The Catholic conspirator Francis Throckmorton (fn. 192) claimed to hold it by grant from Sir Hugh, and on his attainder in 1584 it was argued that the advowson had lapsed to the Crown. It presented in 1621 and 1622 (fn. 193) and in 1623 granted the advowson to John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, (fn. 194) who in turn gave it with three other advowsons to St. John's College, Cambridge, of which he was a Fellow. (fn. 195) The second claim was based on a sale of the advowson in 1572 by Hugh Throckmorton to George Throckmorton of Fulbrook (Bucks.) (fn. 196) for £100 and 100 sheep. The latter presented Thomas Norbury in 1592 and sold the advowson to him. A Chancery case of 1619 shows that Throckmorton's right to present had been challenged and that although his nominee was allowed to remain in possession the advowson had been awarded to the Crown. (fn. 197) By the 1650's William Norbury of Hanwell was in possession of the second claim. He sold it to the rector Thomas Hodges for £40 and the latter in 1662 granted it to St. John's College, which thus became the possessor of both claims to the advowson. The title to the second claim, which had never been legally confirmed, was causing trouble to the college as late as 1704. (fn. 198) The college was still patron in 1955, when the living was held with Fritwell.
Eynsham Abbey never appropriated Souldern, although in about 1200, when the abbot's nephew was made vicar, (fn. 199) it was probably planning to do so. By 1197–8 the abbey was receiving from the church the large pension of £5, allocated to its kitchen. (fn. 200) In the mid-14th century the rector Thomas Solers (1350– 61) withheld payment of this pension, but was finally condemned in 1361 by the king's court to pay arrears of £52 10s. plus damages of £10. (fn. 201) His successor, Master Simon of Lambourne, continued the suit, but unsuccessfully, (fn. 202) as the pension was still being paid in the early 15th century. (fn. 203) By 1535 it had been reduced to £2 13s. 4d., (fn. 204) a sum which the Crown continued to receive until the 18th century. (fn. 205)
Had it not been for this medieval pension to Eynsham, worth originally about a half and later a third of the living, Souldern would have been one of the richest rectories in the deanery. Even so it was a moderately good one, valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1254 (fn. 206) and £10 in 1291, (fn. 207) a value which by 1535 had declined to £8 14s. (fn. 208) During the 17th and 18th centuries, according to the two tithe agreements of 1613 and 1676 (see below), it was worth about £100 and then £150. After the tithe agreement of 1808 its value was increased to about £500. (fn. 209)
Souldern in common with other churches was often involved in litigation. One dispute, of unexplained origin, was with Oseney Abbey. Robert de la Haye (rector 1231–44) claimed by the 'custom of churchscot' an acre of grain from the abbey's demesne in Mixbury and 4d. from Fulwell, claims which he ultimately gave up for a composition of £5. (fn. 210)
More serious trouble was caused by the glebe of Souldern, which mainly consisted of a hide in the fields of Fritwell. Known as the 'Chercheyde de Souldern,' this land was once held by William the clerk, who presumably served the church of Souldern, but in 1199 was given by Eynsham Abbey to Miles and Millicent of Fritwell, to be held of the church of Souldern for a pound of pepper, in exchange for a ¼ knight's fee in Wood Eaton. (fn. 211) The exchange was probably made at the time that the abbey was planning to appropriate the church, but the appropriation did not take place, and a few years later the rector demanded the return of his glebe. After at least two years' litigation, in the course of which Stephen of Fritwell, Miles's son, was excommunicated, papal judges ordered the return of the land to the church. (fn. 212)
Further litigation occurred when the Rector of Souldern refused to pay tithes on it to St. Frideswide's Priory, the appropriator of Fritwell. In 1229, before papal commissioners, one rector promised to cause no further trouble about these tithes, (fn. 213) but his successor Robert de la Haye refused to pay them. A multitude of people from both parishes attended the hearing of the case; many gave evidence, and it was again decided that the land lay in Fritwell. (fn. 214) Finally in 1237, before papal commissioners, a compromise was made: the rector was to collect the tithes but was to pay 2s. pension to St. Frideswide's. (fn. 215) After the Reformation the land was exempt from all tithes. (fn. 216)
Another part of the glebe consisted of a few acres in Souldern, part at least of which had been granted to the church in about 1200. (fn. 217) In 1291 the rector was at law over his land with the lord and lady of the manor. (fn. 218)
At least one early rector, John Barnewell (d. 1305), resided in Souldern, for he was allowed to divert the stream so that it ran through the court of his house. (fn. 219) He was accused of having abducted the daughter of the lord of the manor. (fn. 220)
Several later rectors came from distinguished clerical families. From 1317 to 1349, for instance, the living was held by three members of the family of John Dalderby, Bishop of Lincoln, one of whom, Master Peter de Dalderby, later became Precentor of Lincoln. (fn. 221) Two others, Master Simon of Wells and Master Simon of Lambourne, who was also a Fellow of Merton College and a University proctor, (fn. 222) were probably relatives of two 14th-century abbots of Eynsham. (fn. 223) Early 15th-century rectors were not graduates and the church was the subject of frequent exchanges. Later, graduate rectors were again instituted: they included Master Robert Darcy (1462–6), Master Walter Bate (1466–79), a benefactor of Lincoln College, (fn. 224) Master Thomas Warner (d. 1514) (fn. 225) and his successor. The last was studying in Oxford in about 1520, with the result that the episcopal visitors found the church defective, the rectory farmed, and the walls of the cemetery broken, so that cattle wandered in. (fn. 226)
The state of confusion in the church during the religious changes of the 16th century is illustrated by a case in the archdeacon's court in 1584–5. John Hale, once churchwarden, admitted having sold the chalice to buy a communion cup; the cross, crucifix, and altar cloths were in the hands of three parishioners; another parishioner, shortly afterwards returned as a recusant, had bought the chalice for 40s.; and another admitted to having a sepulchre which was used as a cupboard. (fn. 227)
Seventeenth-century rectors were above the average in competence and were resident. Norbury (see above), a 'preaching minister' and a married man, (fn. 228) brought much trouble on the church by agreeing to the terms of the inclosure award of 1613, whereby the tithes were commuted for 40s. a yardland. (fn. 229) This agreement was to prove increasingly disadvantageous, and in 1638, on the petition of Norbury's successor Thomas Harding (1622–c. 1645), was reversed by a decree of Chancery. (fn. 230) Harding, who was removed from his living, was a characteristic 17thcentury divine of the Laudian school, (fn. 231) and was long remembered at Souldern for his rebuilding of the parsonage (fn. 232) and for his 'hospitality and charity to the poor'. (fn. 233) Thomas Hodges (1647–62) (fn. 234) and William Twine (1663–6), (fn. 235) on the other hand, were Low Church sympathizers. In the time of Bryan Turner (1666–98), a well-known preacher, (fn. 236) the tithe dispute again flared up. The farmers wanted another money settlement in lieu of tithes, (fn. 237) while the rector protested against various practices of tithe-evasion, comparing Souldern with the neighbouring parish of Fritwell, where the great tithes were worth £120, while at Souldern, where the land was much more valuable, the tithes could only be let for £90. (fn. 238) The dispute was eventually referred to the Bishop of London, who in 1676 made an award, which was to stand until the early 19th century, commuting the tithes for £2 12s. 6d. a yardland. (fn. 239)
With one exception 18th-century rectors were resident. One, John Russell (1735–72), is memorable for beginning the unusual practice of holding services on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as for having two services on Sundays. He administered the sacrament four times a year, catechized the children in summer, and was able to report 20 to 30 communicants and a parish 'very regular about going to church'. (fn. 240) The same number of services were continued by his successor, John Horseman (fn. 241) (1772– 1806), well known in the neighbourhood as an inclosure commissioner. (fn. 242) He continued, however, to accept the tithe agreement, by this time very disadvantageous to the church, as he preferred to remain on good terms with his parishioners. (fn. 243) His successor Robert Jones (1806–35) (fn. 244) was determined to overthrow the composition, which brought in about £120 for all tithes, instead of their estimated value of over £300. (fn. 245) In 1808, backed by St. John's College, Cambridge, he made a settlement with the landowners for £435 a year, (fn. 246) and in 1842 the tithes were commuted for £431. (fn. 247) The rectory thus became a very comfortable one, for the rector in addition to the tithes had his glebe: a few acres in Souldern, and about 55 acres in Fritwell (fn. 248) with commons for 8 beasts and 62 sheep, (fn. 249) which were exchanged in 1808 for Inland farm (123 a.). (fn. 250)
Because of the bitterness of the tithe dispute and the dilapidated state of the Rectory, Jones did not come to Souldern until the bishop forced him to do so in 1809. (fn. 251) His expenditure on the repair of the Rectory (fn. 252) and farm buildings, (fn. 253) on top of expenses for inclosure in Fritwell, so crippled him financially that from 1822 he was allowed to be non-resident and to hire a resident curate. (fn. 254)
The religious revival of the mid-19th century was covered by the long incumbency of Lawrence Stephenson (1835–89), considered an Evangelical Anglican (fn. 255) and rather conservative. In 1854, when there were between 30 and 40 communicants and a congregation of 150, he said he made no effort to fill his church, as the Wesleyans did theirs. (fn. 256)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN is a stone building consisting of a chancel, clerestoried nave, south aisle and porch, and a western tower. (fn. 257)
The earliest parts of the church are the tower and the north wall of the nave, which, together with the north doorway, date from the second half of the 12th century. The foundations of an eastern apse are said to have been discovered when the chancel was rebuilt in 1896, and the original Romanesque church probably consisted of an aisleless nave with apsidal chancel and western tower. The presence of a 12thcentury capital reused as the base of one of the columns of the arcade on the south side of the nave may, however, indicate that a south aisle was added before the end of the 12th century. Early in the 13th century the chancel was rebuilt on a rectangular plan and given a new chancel arch with sculptured capitals. During the first half of the 14th century the south aisle was rebuilt on a larger scale, and the spacious south porch with stone benches was added. The existing arcade was reconstructed with new arches, but the old circular pillars were reused. Late in the 15th or early in the 16th century the highpitched roof of the nave was replaced by a flat roof and clerestory of small rectangular windows. (fn. 257) In 1698 nearly £100 was spent on repairs, (fn. 258) and about twenty years later Rawlinson found the church neat and well kept. (fn. 259) Repairs were ordered in 1757 and in 1758 the church was painted. (fn. 260) In 1775 the condition of the chancel was serious: the roof had fallen in and the walls were crumbling. The medieval chancel was pulled down by the rector and a much smaller one erected in its place. (fn. 261) This filled only about half of the chancel arch, the top part of which was blocked up and three lancet windows inserted. (fn. 262) Blomfield described this building as a 'low-roofed, room-like, mean erection'. (fn. 263) In 1815 a western gallery was erected and in 1855 the original carved seats were removed from the nave and replaced by pews. (fn. 264) In 1877 the church was again in urgent need of repair: the architect A. Hodgson of Bloxham proposed that the chancel should be rebuilt (fn. 265) by the lay rectors and in 1878 restoration work was started by J. Cox of Souldern, who removed the gallery and the plaster in the nave. A new chancel and organ-chamber were built in 1896–7 to the designs of Bucknall and J. N. Comper, and in 1906 the tower was taken down and rebuilt by G. F. Bodley. (fn. 266)
The 12th-century stone font is plain and circular. (fn. 267) The wooden pulpit is 19th century and the organ was built by Jackson of Oxford. Nothing remains of the coats of arms seen by Rawlinson in the chancel windows. (fn. 268) There are the remains of a wall-painting —probably St. Christopher—on the north wall.
Among the memorials in the church is a restored heart brass of c. 1460. The commemorative inscription has been lost, and its place is now occupied by a modern restoration of a 16th-century inscription in memory of John Throckmorton. (fn. 269) There are also brasses to Thomas Warner, parson (d. 1514), and to an unknown female of the 16th century. There is a tablet in the nave to f. and a. g. dated 1664 and many other 18th-and 19th-century inscriptions to the Gough family. Inscriptions to other prominent Souldern families, Kilby, Dodwell, and Weedon, (fn. 270) which were recorded in 1882, are now nearly illegible.
In 1552 the church was furnished with a silvergilt chalice, two brass candlesticks, some vestments, and two copes. (fn. 271) The chalice was sold in about 1578 for 40s. and replaced by a communion cup. (fn. 272) In the 17th century the church owned a communion cup, a pewter flagon, a silver bowl and salver. (fn. 273) In 1955 the plate included a Cromwellian chalice, a silver paten (1633), and a flagon (1790) given by John Gough in 1899. (fn. 274) In 1552 the church had three bells and a sanctus bell; in 1955 there was a ring of six bells, three of which dated from the 17th century and were made by Henry Bagley. The fourth, dating from about 1550, was recast in 1910. The sanctus bell is 17th-century. (fn. 275)
The registers date from 1667, and there are churchwardens' accounts 1774–1838.
Souldern, owing to its lords of the manor, was an important Roman Catholic stronghold in the north-east of the county. The first record is the recusancy in 1577 of John Stutsbury, who is again mentioned as a leading recusant in 1592. (fn. 276) He was the father-in-law of Robert Weedon, and this family remained Roman Catholic throughout the 17th century, John and Eleanor Weedon being first fined as recusants in 1603. (fn. 277) In the Civil War their estates were sequestrated. (fn. 278) Another prominent recusant family were the Kilbys; (fn. 279) in the late 17th century the Weedons were said to have mortgaged land to the Benedictine nuns of Dunkirk and the Kilbys to the priests of Douai. (fn. 280) The Coxes, descendants of the Kilbys and the 18thcentury lords of the manor, were also Roman Catholics. (fn. 281)
From the early 17th century there was a comparatively large Roman Catholic community. About eight recusants were fined, (fn. 282) and in 1643 nine were assessed for the subsidy. (fn. 283) The numbers increased: in 1676 there were 21, in 1690 the constables reported 19, (fn. 284) and 25 in 1706. Besides the Kilbys and Weedons, there were a carpenter, a tailor, and some labourers, servants, and poor people. (fn. 285) During the 18th century the number varied between ten and fourteen. (fn. 286) In 1767 the community consisted of Samuel Cox and his household, a tallow-chandler, a shopkeeper, and a labourer with their families, and a single woman who earned her living by spinning. (fn. 287)
Although the 18th-century visitations state that there was no place of papist worship and there was almost certainly never a resident priest, there was a chapel in the attic of the manor-house. In 1877 a priest's hiding-place was discovered under the floor. (fn. 288) The chapel ceased to be used for worship in 1781 but was reopened in 1852 by Dr. J. T. Dolman, the lessee of the house, whose wife was a Cox. (fn. 289) When he died in 1867, Souldern House was leased by his son-in-law, the Hon. Bryan Stapleton. (fn. 290) In 1869 his sister-in-law Mrs. J. J. Dolman erected the chapel of St. Joseph in the grounds of Souldern House in memory of her husband. (fn. 291) All this led to a revival of the declining faith (fn. 292) and at the end of the century the community consisted of about nine families. (fn. 293)
St. Christopher's chapel at the American Air Force base, established in 1956 at Upper Heyford, is in Souldern parish. (fn. 294)
Except for two Anabaptists at the end of the 17th century, (fn. 295) there is little record of dissent before the 19th century. In 1818 and 1819 dissenting meeting-houses were licensed, (fn. 296) and in 1850 a small Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built. (fn. 297) Local preachers came every other week and every effort was made to fill the chapel. (fn. 298) The Wesleyan Methodists died out, but in 1869 the present chapel was built by the Wesleyan Reform Union, (fn. 299) of which it is still (1955) a member. (fn. 300)
In 1808 three small schools taught reading and writing to 40–50 children; they were supported by the parents except for 12 children paid for by the rector. (fn. 301) In 1816 (fn. 302) a schoolroom was built at the expense of William and James Minn. In 1818 it was being used for a Sunday school of 30 boys, and as a day school; the rector was paying for 13 boys. (fn. 303) By 1833 the Minns' school had 40 pupils, and a legacy of £200, bequeathed in 1820 by Elizabeth Westcar for the support of a master of a National school, (fn. 304) had been applied to its endowment. (fn. 305) It seems to have been affiliated to the National Society by 1847. (fn. 306)
In about 1851 James Minn bequeathed a plot of land for a new Church of England school, and two cottages for the teachers. (fn. 307) The school was built shortly after 1856 and was endowed with the Westcar legacy and apparently with another left by Minn, for by 1864 its endowment was producing about £60 a year. (fn. 308) There were 45 pupils in 1871, (fn. 309) and soon afterwards the school was enlarged and a new master's house was built. (fn. 310) The average attendance was 60 in 1893 and 77 in 1906. (fn. 311) Senior pupils were transferred to Fritwell in 1930, and the school was controlled in 1951. The number of pupils was 47 in 1937, but only 17 in 1954. (fn. 312)
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic School was built in 1879 on a site given by Lt.-Col. R. S. Cox. (fn. 313) There were one mistress and 18 pupils in 1887, but only 8 pupils in 1903. (fn. 314) The school was closed in 1904. (fn. 315)
The inclosure award of 1613 assigned to the poor 13 acres of land (fn. 316) and a rent of 5s. a year paid by the rector for waste ground by the parsonage. Up to 1814 the allotment was used as common pasture by the inhabitants, and was the subject of frequent disputes. Responsible trustees were only appointed in 1815. By 1824 seventeen cottages, with gardens, had been built on the allotment either by the parish or the poor themselves, and there were 40 other gardens. Poor families paid the trustees 1s. 6d. a year for a cottage and garden or 1s. for a garden only. Vacancies were filled from the oldest poor inhabitants. The remainder of the allotment was let, and the annual income of the whole including the rector's 5s. was about £5, which was distributed to the poor by the vestry, those without cottages or gardens getting 5s. each, and those with them 1s. A small surplus was reserved for poor widows and old men. (fn. 317) In 1948 sixteen cottages brought in £108 13s. 6d. and 48 gardens £4 7s.; land was rented for £6 6s. and with the rector's 5s. and a rent charge of £7 on part of the Souldern manor estate the total income was £126 11s. 6d. (fn. 318)
Thomas Dodwell, by deed dated 1694, gave a rent charge of £1 10s. a year to buy clothing for two poor people to be chosen by those Protestant parishioners who held ¼ yardland or more. In the 1820's five or six poor Protestants received cloth to make jackets or petticoats, the oldest married parishioners not receiving relief benefiting in turn.
By other deeds, dated 1694 and 1699, Dodwell conveyed about 20 acres of land on trust that its successive owners should distribute threepenny loaves to four poor people every Sunday morning in the parish church. Recipients were to be chosen in the same way as for the clothing charity. In 1824, however, four poor widows were nominated by the vestry.
Richard Cartwright of Aynho, by will dated 1634, left a rent charge of £9 19s. 4d. to provide bread for the poor of Aynho, Croughton (Northants), and Souldern. In 1824 £2 3s. 4d. charged on lands in Aynho was spent on eightpenny loaves for five poor widows chosen by the vestry. (fn. 319)
Elizabeth Westcar of Hill House, by will dated 1820, left property in trust to raise £600, of which £400 was to be invested and the income used to purchase bread and clothing. These were to be distributed to the poor on Christmas day. (fn. 320)
In 1832 John Westcar bequeathed £506 6s. 7d. in stock to provide clothing for the poor. The income of the charity was £15 3s. 9d. in 1870. (fn. 321)
The Souldern charities were regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners made in 1891, but in the early 20th century their administration and distribution were irregular and caused many disputes. (fn. 322) Under a new scheme all the charities were amalgamated in 1949, and the income was to be used to buy medicine and appliances for the sick, to help young people to enter trades, to supply food, fuel, and clothes for the needy, and to make loans of money in cases of special distress. (fn. 323) Many of the cottages on the poor's allotment were condemned after 1948, and charity funds had temporarily to be employed to repair others. In 1955 the total income was £89 16s. 4d. and was made up of poor's allotment: £57 11s.; Westcar charities: £26; Dodwell charities: £4 2s., and Cartwright charity: £2 3s. 4d. (fn. 324)