A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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The ancient parish consisted of 1,961 acres and was roughly two miles wide and one mile long. In the 19th century Charlton civil parish had an area of 822 acres and the hamlets of Fencott and Murcott formed a separate civil parish of 1,139 acres. (fn. 1) In 1932 Fencott and Murcott parish was enlarged to 3,333 acres, when 2,194 acres of Otmoor were transferred from Beckley. Thus the ecclesiastical parish of Charlton (which still included Fencott and Murcott) was increased to 4,155 acres. (fn. 2) Most of the northern boundary of the ancient parish followed the River Ray and one of its feeders; the southern boundary skirted the northern edge of Otmoor. (fn. 3) The southern part of the eastern boundary, along Boarstall Lane, was also the county boundary between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In the 18th century the parish's circumference was said to be six miles. (fn. 4)
The major part of the ancient parish lies on the Oxford Clay, though Charlton village, like the nearby Ambrosden and Merton, lies on a domed 'island' of Cornbrash with the Forest Marble outcropping in the centre. (fn. 5) The whole parish is low-lying, only rising much above 200 feet above sea-level at Charlton village. The main arm of the River Ray runs through the centre of the parish, between Charlton and Fencott villages; part of the New River Ray, dug in 1815 to drain Otmoor, runs parallel with the parish's southern boundary. The Islip-Merton road crosses the western part of the parish and has a branch to Charlton village. A road skirting the edge of Otmoor connects Oddington, Charlton, Fencott, and Murcott. Between Charlton and Fencott this road follows the line of the Church Way mentioned in 1469, (fn. 6) and crosses the Ray by a three-arched bridge built about 1820. (fn. 7) There was a bridge here in 1483. (fn. 8) Between Fencott and Murcott the present line of the road was defined by the Otmoor inclosure award in 1815; a causeway connecting Fencott and Murcott existed in the 15th century. (fn. 9) The Roman road which crosses Otmoor passes to the west of Fencott village and farther north gives its name to Street Hill. Roman remains have been found just south of Fencott. (fn. 10)
A branch of the former L.M.S. railway touches the western end of the parish, but the nearest station is at Islip three miles away. (fn. 11)
Charlton and its hamlets of Fencott and Murcott He in the south of the parish, along the northern edge of Otmoor. Charlton stands on a slight rocky eminence (223 ft.); its church at the western end is a landmark for the surrounding countryside, and a local poem records how the tolling of the curfew, a custom which is still kept up, saved a traveller lost on Otmoor. (fn. 12)
The village, though never a very prosperous one, was once more populated than it is now. (fn. 13) In the 17th century besides the Rectory there were 24 houses listed for the hearth tax of 1662 and in 1665 there were 16, of which 4 were substantial farm-houses for which 4 or 3 hearths were returned. (fn. 14) Today (1956) Charlton consists of one long street with a loop on the north-west. Apart from the Rectory, the village (fn. 15) never seems to have had any house of note and there is no record of the existence of a manorhouse. (fn. 16) It is distinguished by its numerous small farm-houses—ten in number. A large number of old farm-houses and cottages, built of the local stone, have survived: most of the houses are roofed with tiles or Welsh slate, but owing to the skill of local thatchers, thatch still predominates among the cottages. (fn. 17)
Among the 17th-century houses is Yew Tree Farm, a two-storied rectangular house, with twolight casement windows with wooden lintels and frames. There is a staircase projection at the back, and a few old ceiling beams with fleur-de-lis stop chamfers remain inside. The 'George and Dragon' at the eastern end of the village is a two-storied house with a stone dated 1691 on the north-east gable. It originally consisted of one room up and one down, but two more rooms have been added at the back. It was here that the moor-men resolved to form an Otmoor Association in 1830. (fn. 18) There seems to have been much rebuilding in the 18th century: Cumberland House has a stone inscribed with the date 1708 and the initials s.c.e., and a two-storied cottage is dated 1751. Indeed most of the surviving ancient cottages probably date from that century or the first quarter of the 19th century. The local antiquary Dunkin described the village dwellings in the 1820's as 'neat and commodious' and published a contemporary drawing of the village street showing the stocks near the church and the Crown Inn standing opposite. (fn. 19) Both the 'Crown' and the 'George and Dragon' were known by those names in 1785, but they were probably inns very much earlier. (fn. 20) An innkeeper of Charlton is mentioned in 1618. (fn. 21)
The most imposing house in the village is the Rectory, enlarged by the rector John Knipe in about 1805: (fn. 22) it is an L-shaped house of three stories. The old Rectory, part of which still survives, was also in its day a substantial 'gentleman's residence'. In 1634 it was described as 'the manor house of the rectory'. (fn. 23) It then seems to have been a long building of two stories with a cock-loft over two of the rooms. There were at least thirteen rooms, five of which are said to have had chimneys. Several rooms had boarded floors, wainscoted walls and plastered ceilings. It was separated from the 'comon street' by a walled garden and had another garden and orchard to the south-east. The rector returned six hearths for this house for the hearth tax of 1665. (fn. 24)
Knipe's new house is built of coursed rubble. It has a pedimented porch on the north front; a high wall separates it from the street. Dunkin thought it a pleasant residence 'calculated to convey to posterity the rector's superior taste and public spirit'. (fn. 25) After the Second World War it was divided into two: the older half serves as a Rectory and the newer half as a private residence. (fn. 26)
Later 19th-century additions to the village were the Baptist chapel, built in 1835; the school with a schoolmistress's house, built in 1866; and the parish room. (fn. 27) The last was a building adjoining the Rectory, which was converted with the aid of a donation from the Revd. George Hayton, rector 1884–95. Among the 20th-century additions are eighteen council houses, fourteen of them built between 1945 and 1954, (fn. 28) a petrol-pump and motor mechanic's shop. There have been some losses: the windmill, which lay to the north-east of the village and was at work about 40 years ago, has gone; (fn. 29) so has the Star Inn, which went in the early 1920's. (fn. 30) But on the whole there has been remarkably little change in the appearance of the village since the early 19th century.
Fencott, a small straggling hamlet on the eastern side of the Ray, lies less than a mile away from its parent village. With its neighbour Murcott, over a mile farther east, it has suffered much from floods. Fifteenth-century court rolls frequently mention overflowing ditches and flooded roads. (fn. 31) For the hearth tax of 1665 three farm-houses returned two hearths each. (fn. 32) Today Fencott's few farm-houses and cottages are mostly built of local stone, and one, a two-storied house with a gabled attic dormer, bears the date 1737 and the initials TWE. Murcott hamlet is rather larger than Fencott. Many of its cottages are stone built and have thatched roofs, but most of the small farm-houses were rebuilt in red brick or variegated brick during the 19th century. A Methodist chapel was erected in 1845. (fn. 33) The 'Nut Tree' at the east end of the hamlet is a one-storied inn with attics and a thatched roof. There were three inns in the hamlets in the mid-18th century, of which the 'Black Bull' in Fencott and the 'Marlake House' in Murcott survived into the 20th century. Both had closed by 1939. (fn. 34) The 'Marlake House' was near the site of the house of that name shown on a 17thcentury map of the adjoining manor of Studley. (fn. 35)
The parish has only produced one 'worthy' of note: Daniel Featley, the celebrated Anglican controversialist and preacher, was born at Charlton in 1582. (fn. 36) The village's other most distinguished residents are to be found among its rectors. (fn. 37)
At the time of the inclosure of Otmoor, it was alleged that in 1830 two Charlton men led some of the bands who, believing they had the law on their side, broke down the fences, and that Charlton men threatened to 'fetch' the Horton men if they did not join them voluntarily. (fn. 38) Many of the villagers were subsequently concerned in the events of St. Giles' Fair day, and in the formation of the Otmoor Association. (fn. 39)
Before the Conquest Baldwin held freely 10 hides in CHARLTON; (fn. 40) in 1086 Roger d'Ivry held them of Hugh de Grantmesnil, whose daughter Adeline he had married. (fn. 41) With Hugh's consent Adeline and her daughter Adelize granted the manor to St. Évroul Abbey in Normandy. Between 1190 and 1204 (fn. 42) Robert, Earl of Leicester, son of Pernel, the great-granddaughter of Hugh de Grantmesnil, (fn. 43) confirmed the grant. The overlordship of Charlton descended to Margaret, sister and coheiress of Robert Fitz Pernel, who married Saer de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, (fn. 44) and to their son Roger. In 1242 10 marks a year from the revenues of Charlton church were reserved to Roger, son of Earl Roger, 'so long as he should demean himself honestly as a clerk, not take a wife, nor receive the habit of the religous nor be endowed with any other ecclesiastical benefice'. (fn. 45) In 1279 the Earl of Leicester was erroneously said to be overlord. (fn. 46) Earl Roger de Quincy (d. 1264) left three daughters, one of whom, Ela, had married Alan la Zouche (d. 1270). (fn. 47) The overlordship then descended to their grandson Alan, who died in 1314 leaving three daughters. (fn. 48) One of them, Maud, married Robert de Holland, (fn. 49) and her great-granddaughter Maud married Sir John Lovel, second son of John, Lord Lovel of Titchmarsh, about 1372. (fn. 50) Charlton was included in the possessions of Sir John's grandson William at his death in 1455, (fn. 51) the last occasion on which the overlordship was mentioned.
The alien priory of Ware, a cell of St. Évroul and a foundation of Hugh de Grantmesnil, held Charlton until it was suppressed in 1414. (fn. 52) The manor was granted by Henry V to his new foundation at Sheen (Surr.) in the following year, (fn. 53) and Sheen held it until the Dissolution. (fn. 54) The Poure family (fn. 55) were tenants of Charlton under Ware from the 12th to the 15th century. Walter Poure, a brother of William Poure of Oddington, was alive about 1175, and his son Hugh granted his meadow of 'Le Dene' in Charlton to Thame Abbey about 1190. (fn. 56) Hugh was succeeded by his son John, who also held land at Garford (Berks.), and his grandson Richard, who held Charlton, (fn. 57) Garford, and Wendlebury in 1279. Richard's son William had succeeded him by 1284. He died in 1316 or 1317, leaving a son Richard, (fn. 58) who was dead by 1338, when another William Poure held Charlton. (fn. 59) William was succeeded by Sir Thomas Poure of Black Bourton, who was dead by 1398, leaving as his heir a son Thomas. (fn. 60) Thomas died a minor in 1407, (fn. 61) and was succeeded by his sister Agnes, who married firstly William Winslow of Ramsbury (Wilts.), who died in 1414, and secondly Robert Andrew, who died in 1437. (fn. 62)
Sheen Priory was dissolved in 1539 and in 1552 Charlton manor was still in the king's hands. (fn. 63) In 1558 (fn. 64) and again in 1560 it was conveyed to groups of London citizens as security for loans to Elizabeth I, who recovered it in 1562. (fn. 65). In 1574 Charlton manor was granted to Lord Cheney of Toddington, (fn. 66) at whose request it passed in 1575 to Sir John Dudley and John Ayscough. (fn. 67) They sold it in the following year to William Shillingford alias Izard, (fn. 68) who died in 1589. The manor was granted by letters patent to his son Edmund in 1612, (fn. 69) but it was charged with so many legacies by him that his son John was forced to mortgage it in 1668 to Mary Hatton, widow of Sir Thomas Hatton. In 1671 she claimed that she had lent John Shillingford £1,500 on the security of Charlton and half the manor and rectory of Beckley. The money had not been repaid, but Francis Hall of Noke claimed an earlier title to the manor. John Shillingford, then a prisoner in the Fleet, replied that there were numerous other mortgages and securities and that he had been imprisoned just when he was about to make a good marriage. Francis Hall had assigned a judgement for £400 that he had received against Shillingford in 1670 to George Scudamore, (fn. 70) and in 1680 Hatton's mortgage of Charlton was assigned to Hall and Scudamore. The manor was afterwards sold to Gregory Geering, who in 1688 sold it to John Pope of East Ginge (Berks.). (fn. 71) In 1717 the latter gave it to his son Gregory Pope.
In 1732 Gregory Pope's widow and son sold Charlton to Thomas Cooper, who also secured from Matthew Biggs, John Shillingford's heir, his reversionary interest in the estate. Cooper at once mortgaged the manor to John Coker of Bicester and finally sold it in 1753 to Sir Edward Turner of Ambrosden, (fn. 72) whose descendants remained lords of the manor until 1874. (fn. 73) The new lords owned very little land in Charlton, but they were still holding manorial courts there in the 1820's. (fn. 74) Soon after the death of Sir Edward Page-Turner in 1874, (fn. 75) the family lands in Charlton were purchased by John Rowland, who was described as lord of the manor in 1887. (fn. 76) Any claim to manorial rights seems to have lapsed after another sale of the former Turner property in 1902. (fn. 77)
Westminster Abbey held almost all the land in the hamlets of Fencott and Murcott as part of its Islip manor. (fn. 78) The estate was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster in 1542, and save for the years 1556–60 when the abbey, refounded by Queen Mary, was lord of the manor, (fn. 79) it was held by them until the end of the 19th century. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were lords of the manor in 1939. (fn. 80) Between 1786 and 1845 the estate was leased to the Queen's College, Oxford, at a rent of 7s. a year. (fn. 81)
On her deathbed, Adeline d'Ivry granted a hide in Charlton to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 82) In about 1180 Abbot Roger granted this land, which was in Fencott township, to William Turpin, camerarius regis, in exchange for lands in Dumbleton (Berks.): it was to be held for a quit-rent of 2s. (fn. 83) About 1200 William granted the land to his son Geoffrey, subject to the quit-rent, (fn. 84) and by 1218 it had passed to Osbert Turpin, (fn. 85) who also held land at North Moreton (Berks.). (fn. 86) About 1230 Osbert sold the hide in Fencott to Godstow Abbey for £176s. 8d., still subject to the 2s. quit-rent: Abingdon Abbey confirmed the grant, but increased the quitrent to 5s. (fn. 87) The hide was held of Godstow in 1247 by John Bereworth (fn. 88) and in 1279 by John 'Berewike', (fn. 89) perhaps the same man or his son. In 1314 the tenant of Godstow was William de la Hide (fn. 90) and in 1318 it was granted to Sir Richard Bere for a quitrent of 8s. a year and a casualty of 50s. for heriot and relief. (fn. 91) Sir Richard, who appears to have been in possession two years earlier, (fn. 92) was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1318, (fn. 93) and the Ralph de la Bere said to hold ½ knight's fee in Fencott and Murcott in 1455 may perhaps have been his descendant. (fn. 94) At the Dissolution the Fencott property yielded to Godstow £1 17s. 4d. a year, and the abbey still paid the 5s. quit-rent to Abingdon. (fn. 95) In 1553 the estate was granted to George Owen, the king's physician, and to William Martyn together with other Godstow lands. (fn. 96) In 1645 it was being held in fee farm of the Crown by Sir William Spencer and others for £2 13s. 10d. a year. (fn. 97)
In the 13th century two virgates in Charlton were granted to Catesby Priory (Northants) by Hugh Russel and the grant was confirmed by Gilbert de Hyda. (fn. 98) In 1283 Hugh son of Margery de Hynton granted to the priory all the land in Charlton that he had acquired from Hugh Russel for a rent of 2s. a year, and agreed to pay a similar sum in settlement of a rent granted to the priory by Nicholas de Crevleton. (fn. 99) At the Dissolution the priory was receiving 14s. a year in rents from Charlton. (fn. 100) In 1540 its lands were granted by Henry VIII to Sir Michael Dormer, who in 1543 conveyed them to his brother Peter Dormer of Shipton Lee (Bucks.). (fn. 101)
Early settlement of the parish is unlikely since most of it lies either on the Oxford Clay, which carried thick oak forest, or on the alluvial deposits of Otmoor. (fn. 102) There is no evidence of Roman settlement, and the place-names Charlton, the tun of the ceorls', and Fencott and Murcott, both meaning 'cottages on marshy ground'. are all of Anglo-Saxon origin. (fn. 103) In 1086 Roger d'Ivry's estate in Charlton probably included the hamlets. All the available arable, land for 15 ploughs, was probably under cultivation, for Roger's tenants had 11 ploughs and there were 4 on the demesne. There was meadow-land (4×2 furls.) and pasture (3×2 furls.), and a rise in the value of the estate from £8 to £10 since 1066 may indicate that woodland had recently been cleared. The peasant population possibly numbered 32 families, for there were 15 villeins (villani), 11 bordars, and 6 serfs. (fn. 104)
The Hundred Rolls of 1279 show considerable changes: in Charlton the Prior of Ware had 3 virgates in demesne, while under him Richard Poure held 4 virgates for 6d. a year and another free tenant, whose servants had to do 2 precaria in autumn on the prior's demesne, held 1 virgate. Of the 26 villeins on the manor 6 held half-virgates of Richard for 6s. 8d. a year. Under the prior 20 half-virgaters paid 2s. 6d. and 6¾d. in lieu of works, 1 virgater paid 5s. and 1s. 2½d. and 2 cottagers paid 2s. 4½d. each. In all there were about 22 virgates of arable land, each consisting, in Charlton, of 30 customary acres. (fn. 105) In 1294 the 3 virgates of arable in the prior's demesne were worth £1 2s. 6d. a year and his 15 acres of meadow £1 10s. The whole demesne was then worth £9 4s. 4d. a year, including 10s. for the common oven and £2 6s. 8d. for the windmill. (fn. 106)
On the Abbot of Westminster's estates in Fencott and Murcott, which formed part of his manor of Islip, there were in 1279 27 half-virgaters rendering 2s. 6d. a year and 1s. in lieu of works. Five cottars paid a total of 4s. 7d., and the only free tenant paid 11s. 8d. for a virgate and a quarter share of a cottage. Of the Abbess of Godstow's lands in Fencott a free tenant held 1 virgate for 8s. 4d. a year and 3 villeins paying 5s. each held half a virgate. (fn. 107) Altogether about 20 virgates in the hamlets were cultivated by 2 free tenants and 35 villeins and cottars. A total of 61 villeins and cottars in Charlton and its hamlets shows that the population may perhaps have doubled since 1086, and a possible increase in the extent of arable land is suggested by the mention about 1230 of a 'Newebreche' in Charlton. (fn. 108)
In the early 14th century Charlton was both more populous and more prosperous than its hamlets. Charlton's assessment for the 15th from 1334 onwards was £6 10s. 7d., the highest in Ploughley hundred except Bicester, while the hamlets' joint assessment was £5 7s. 2d. (fn. 109) The decrease in the Prior of Ware's annual revenue from Charlton to £5 0s. 6d. by 1324 is largely accounted for by the leasing of the demesne. Week-works had already been commuted by 1279, and a subsequent commutation of boon-works may be indicated by a slight rise in rents of customary lands by 1324. (fn. 110) At the Dissolution Charlton manor was worth £15 2s. 3d. a year. (fn. 111) In 1551 there were 21 copyholders holding some 14¼ virgates for rents which averaged 12s. a virgate and which totalled £10 7s. 3½d. a year. The demesnes, 4 virgates and 6 acres of meadow, (fn. 112) were leased for £4 a year, and the mill and the common bakehouse brought in 15s. There was very little good timber available, for of about 350 trees on the manor all but a few were 'dotterells', 'wranglinges', and 'slyppes'. (fn. 113) In relative prosperity Charlton had declined greatly in 200 years: its assessment for the lay subsidy of 1523 was 10s. 6d., nearly the lowest in Ploughley hundred, while Fencott and Murcott were each to pay as much. (fn. 114) The reason for its decline may well be that after 1300 further extension of tillage was not possible save on to unrewarding Otmoor. In fact the area under cultivation in 1551 was much the same as it had been in 1279.
In 1390 in Fencott and Murcott Westminster's customary tenants were cultivating one more virgate than in 1279. In 1390 there were 11 half-virgaters and 1 tenant with 11 acres in Fencott, and 1 virgater, 18 half-virgaters, 5 cottagers, and 1 small freeholder in Murcott. All the half-virgaters owed heriot, merchet, and tallage. Most of them paid 4s. 6d. a year, rents having risen through the 14th century, and owed 3 days' autumn works and 2 boon-works, while some of the cottagers owed a boon-work. (fn. 115) Week-works had been commuted in the hamlets by 1279 and were not reimposed in the 14th century, whereas in the parent manor of Islip they were exacted till 1349. (fn. 116) The earlier commutation of works in Fencott and Murcott may be accounted for by the distance of the hamlets from Islip and the smallness of the demesne lands. (fn. 117) There is evidence that in the late 14th and early 15th centuries the lord was finding it difficult to enforce services in the hamlets, and in 1433 all labour services were finally commuted. (fn. 118)
The population of Fencott and Murcott may have remained much the same between 1279 when there were 35 half-virgaters and cottars and 1390 when there were 36. The Black Death took a much lighter toll than it did at Islip, and when holdings did fall into the lord's hands they were quickly taken up by new tenants. (fn. 119) A fall in population in the 15th century, however, may be indicated by a decrease in the number of tithings in the hamlets from 7 in 1387 to 5 in 1438. The flight of villeins is first mentioned in 1430, (fn. 120) and a number of customary tenants abandoned their holdings after 1450. The lord's grant in 1463 of a joint lease of their lands to all his customary tenants failed to check the exodus from the manor. (fn. 121) The number of tithings fell to 3 by 1482, one each for Fencott, Murcott, and Godstow's lands. (fn. 122) This decline may have been partly caused by the rise of some tenants from villein status and by evasion of the system of frankpledge.
The acreage of arable at Fencott and Murcott increased slightly between 1279 and 1540, for in the latter year Godstow's estate in Fencott comprised at least 6 virgates—compared with 4 at the earlier date—held by 5 customary tenants. (fn. 123) Nevertheless by 1523 the hamlets were among the poorest places in the hundred. (fn. 124)
There were four open fields in Charlton in 1622 (fn. 125) and these remained virtually unchanged until their inclosure in 1858. The distribution of the glebe arable in 1634 was: North Field 14 lands, Middle Field 13 lands, Field next Fencott 17 lands, and Field next Oddington 20 lands. (fn. 126) In 1844 the distribution in statute acres in the same fields was 10:9:11:12. (fn. 127) A belt of old inclosures, the Woodside and Mansmoor Closes, occupied about 160 acres, a fifth of the township; their shape suggests that they had once been arable land. In 1622 they are called the closes 'in North Field', and in 1634 the rector held one (11 a.) 'in leewe of soe many acres in Northfield'. (fn. 128) The artificial appearance of Close Hedge and Middle Fields on the map may be explained by the drastic rearrangement of furlongs which must have followed the inclosure, perhaps not long before 1622, of much of North Field. (fn. 129) It is likely that there were originally only two fields, North and South. (fn. 130) The lot meadows of Charlton lay in two groups—to the east and west of the township. There were also the Lammas lands.
It is uncertain how many open fields Fencott and Murcott had originally. Campus vocatus Corneffeld is mentioned in 1419 and 'le stubblefyld' in 1539. But, also in 1419, there is a reference to Campi bladales. (fn. 131) In the 15th century there were occasional attempts by tenants to consolidate holdings, and there are numerous references to Westcroft as a close and to 'le lunge close'. (fn. 132) By 1844 there were five open fields, but it is possible that there was only a four-course rotation, the furlongs of the small Fencott Field being worked in groups with the four larger fields. A study of the field boundaries and furlong names of 1844 rather suggests that the four fields had once been three. The meadow and pasture lands were nearly all beside the River Ray, and in 1844 the only inclosures of any size were four in the Croft, about 33 acres in all. (fn. 133)
Whereas the land of Fencott and Murcott was still predominantly held by copyholders at the beginning of the 19th century, Charlton's land was largely freehold. In the course of the 17th century the Shillingford family had sold much of their lands to their tenants: (fn. 134) the demesne lands which had been leased in the late 16th century were a freehold estate by the end of the 17th century. (fn. 135) Thirty Charlton freeholders voted in the county election of 1754, (fn. 136) and 27 received awards under the Otmoor inclosure of 1815—though perhaps only a third of these was then resident in Charlton. In Fencott and Murcott in 1815 there were only 5 entirely freehold estates to 23 copyholds. (fn. 137)
A slight increase in prosperity in Charlton in the late 16th and early 17th centuries may have been the result of the rise of a few yeoman families; (fn. 138) in the 17th and 18th centuries the Alley or Leveret family, the Kirbys, Coopers, and Priests were particularly prominent in the life of the parish. They were already established in Charlton in the 16th century and were still there in the 19th. (fn. 139)
To the cottagers and even to many of the parish's small farmers their rights of common on Otmoor were important. (fn. 140) The parish, like others, suffered from the effects of the Napoleonic Wars. The burden of the poor rates increased by about eight times between 1776 and 1815. (fn. 141) Distress was increased after 1815 by the inclosure of Otmoor, which deprived the poorer cottagers of their livelihood and involved many of the smaller farmers in losses. (fn. 142) By the award of 1815, 214 acres were allotted to Charlton township and 266 acres to the hamlets; about 138 acres of Otmoor adjoining these allotments were purchased by a few rich landowners. (fn. 143) Many of the smaller proprietors out of the 59 to receive awards were too poor to fence them and sold them, some for as little as £5. (fn. 144) After the floods of 1829, nineteen farmers from the parish were among those who cut the banks of the New River Ray and flooded Otmoor to save their own lands. (fn. 145)
By 1830 the formation of larger farms in Charlton had begun, and by 1844 out of 62 holdings, 6 were of over 50 acres. (fn. 146) Oriel College had acquired about 140 acres by 1850, lands which the Alleys and Coopers had once held. (fn. 147) In Fencott and Murcott the small copyholder had virtually disappeared by 1849, when of 980 acres allotted under the inclosure award five farms occupied about 700 acres. There were ten small farms of between 15 and 50 acres and only six smallholdings. (fn. 148) Evidently through the poverty of the old tenants' families many small copyholds had fallen in to the lords of the manor in the past quarter-century and had been granted to comparatively few new tenants. Charlton fields were finally inclosed in 1858. A total of 585 acres was inclosed, the largest allotment (147 a.) going to Oriel College. The amalgamation of estates was still going on: the three largest proprietors between them held what had been eight separate holdings. Twentytwo proprietors received awards, fourteen of them freeholders, but perhaps twice that number of cottagers got nothing. (fn. 149) Inclosure led to better drainage and better cultivation. (fn. 150)
In the second half of the 19th century the number of farms continued to decrease: there were 33 farmers in Charlton and the hamlets in 1864, and 17 in 1903. By 1887 John Rowland had become the principal landowner, (fn. 151) and Oriel College, which added some small purchases to its estate after 1850, remained a prominent landowner until 1921–2 when the college estates were sold. (fn. 152) In 1844 there had been over 1,500 acres of arable land in the parish, (fn. 153) but by 1914 the farms had gone over to dairying, a change confirmed by the increased demand for milk in the present century. By 1939 most of the land was permanent grass and there were only two small patches of arable left—one of them on and around the Cornbrash 'island'. (fn. 154)
The population figures recorded in the census of 1676 and in 18th-century visitation returns are for the parish as a whole, apparently, and so no precise picture of the growth of each place can be obtained. The hearth-tax returns of 1662, however, listed 24 householders in Charlton and 29 in the hamlets. (fn. 155) In 1676 there were said to be 228 adults altogether. (fn. 156) In 1738 it was estimated that there were 99 houses and 450 persons including children, 'which are very numerous', but later 18th-century estimates sometimes put the houses at 80. (fn. 157) The first official census of 1801 gave the population as 478; it reached its peak of 687 in 1861, and thereafter declined, particularly at Fencott and Murcott, and by 1901 the figure was 464 for the whole parish. The trend continued in the 20th century, and in 1951 there were 424 inhabitants. (fn. 158)
In 1811 57 families out of 75 in Charlton and 55 out of 59 in Fencott and Murcott had been engaged in agriculture. (fn. 159) There were about 20 tradesmen in the parish in the 1850's. (fn. 160) Population declined in the second half of the century; (fn. 161) inclosure and the adoption of a more economic system of husbandry no doubt contributed to the decline, which, like inclosure, came later at Charlton than in the hamlets.
The traditional trades of the parish were closely connected with agriculture, and the millers and innkeepers had often been farmers as well. Charlton windmill is first mentioned in 1294, when it was worth £2 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 162) In 1551, however, it was 'cleane downe' and worth but 5s., though it had been working as recently as 1545. (fn. 163) Fencott and Murcott probably had their own mill up to the 16th century at least. (fn. 164) In the early 19th century the Charlton millers ran a meal and bakery business. (fn. 165) The mill had ceased working by 1920. (fn. 166) Good barley can be grown on the Cornbrash and the descent of a maltster's business in Charlton can be traced from 1737 into the second half of the 19th century. (fn. 167) There were stonemasons in the village into the 20th century, but nothing is known of the later history of a quarry of lapis vermiculatus noted by Plot in 1673. (fn. 168) A brickworks using local clay was disused by 1876. (fn. 169) Other village craftsmen in the mid-19th century were carpenters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, shoemakers and tailors, and in 1864 there were two carriers. The number of tradesmen did not fall off noticeably until the 20th century. A significant newcomer in 1903 was the 'threshing machine owner'. (fn. 170)
There was an 11th-century church at Charlton: after the Conquest Hugh de Grantmesnil granted the advowson with the tithes, 5 virgates of land and a villein to the Benedictine monastery of St. Évroul in Normandy. His grant was confirmed by the king in 1081. (fn. 171) The abbey never appropriated the church and it left the right of presentation in the hands of the Prior of Ware. (fn. 172) This alien priory in Hertfordshire did all St. Évroul's English business and is consequently found in 1291 with a pension of £2 from Charlton living. (fn. 173) From 1324 it was in difficulties with its property, which was subsequently taken into the king's hands. In 1348, at the queen's request, the king returned its advowsons on payment of 100 marks. Thus, the prior was able to present to Charlton in 1349. The presentation by the king in 1351 is probably to be explained by the prior's death from the plague, (fn. 174) and royal presentations between 1369 and 1451 by the wars with France.
In 1398, after the confiscation of alien priories, the king granted Charlton's advowson with licence to appropriate the revenues to Henwood Nunnery (Warws.). (fn. 175) The grant was made on condition that the nunnery allowed suitable maintenance for a priest and for the poor; although confirmed by the pope, and by the king in 1403, (fn. 176) it never came into effect. In 1405 (fn. 177) the king granted Ware Priory with its lands and advowsons to the queen, and she consequently presented to Charlton in 1406 and 1408.
In 1409 there is evidence that the Prioress of Henwood did not abandon her claim without a struggle. (fn. 178) A Walter Walkstede, clerk, then gave a recognizance to the prioress to abide by an award made in a dispute over the possession of Charlton. However, the matter was settled in 1414, when the king gave the advowson with the manor and the rest of the possessions of Ware Priory to his new foundations at Sheen in Surrey. (fn. 179) In 1416 the Abbot of St. Évroul begged Sheen for the return of his property, and after years of struggle the abbey carried the case in 1427 to the papal court, where it was defeated. Sheen Priory retained the advowson and received the pension formerly paid to Ware until its dissolution in 1539. (fn. 180) In 1535 the prior granted the right of patronage and first voidance of the church to William Parre and others. (fn. 181) In 1543 the king granted the advowson, subject to the annual payment of £2, formerly due to Sheen and now to the patron, to the agents of the Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 182) The feoffees presented the Provest, William Dennyson, in 1543; (fn. 183) he held the living until his death in 1559. The next incumbent, Alan Scot, was presented by the college and not by the surviving feoffee. (fn. 184) The college still (1955) holds the advowson, and the living is held with Wood Eaton.
The rectory was one of the richest in Bicester deanery, valued at £13 6s. 8d. in 1254 (fn. 185) and at £20 in 1291. (fn. 186) By 1535 its net value was £21 9s. 4d., not as great an increase in value as was usual. The benefice was charged with a pension of £2, payable first to Ware Priory and then to Sheen Priory. (fn. 187)
The rectory was impoverished in the second half of the 16th century by a lease for 81 years at £20 or £30 a year, which Provost Scot of the Queen's College and rector from 1559 to 1578 made to William Izard of Beckley for £280. (fn. 188) Even at the time this lease appears to have been injudicious—a later provost said that Scot should have been hanged for it—and rising prices made it increasingly so. It is probable that attempts to break the lease were made as early as 1579, when a rector was paid £6 13s. 4d. by the college 'ad prosecucionem circa rectoriam de Charlton'. (fn. 189) Finally in 1606 Provost Airay, then ViceChancellor, accepted the living in order to restore the church's rights. (fn. 190) After failing to get the lessor to accept an independent arbitration, Airay, supported by the college, went to law. (fn. 191) The suit proved extremely costly, being heard intermittently from 1609 to 1615. (fn. 192) In the end it was ruled in the King's Bench that the lease was invalid, (fn. 193) the decision being based on a law of 1571, which declared such leases illegal for more than 21 years. (fn. 194)
About this time the rectory was worth £200 a year. (fn. 195) It was entitled to tithe from the whole parish, except for 44 acres in Fencott and Murcott belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and it had 66 field acres of glebe. (fn. 196) In 1844 the tithe was commuted for £603, (fn. 197) and in 1858 at the inclosure award the rectory was allotted 49 statute acres in four lots. (fn. 198) On the inclosure of Otmoor the rector had received another 11 acres of glebe. (fn. 199) In 1956 no glebe was left. (fn. 200) The parish was in Bicester deanery until the 19th century, but by 1854 it had been transferred to the new deanery of Islip. (fn. 201)
In spite of the richness of the living, the rectors were not usually university graduates until after Sheen Priory obtained the advowson. The priory presented a series of distinguished academic rectors: Master Robert Thwaites, Master of Balliol and a former Chancellor of the University; (fn. 202) Thomas Key, who was a canon of Lincoln; (fn. 203) and Master Martin Joyner, once prominent in Oxford University, who became Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral in 1481. (fn. 204) How much of their time, if any, these men spent in the parish, it is impossible to say. The highly connected Master James Fitzjames, who was a canon of St. Paul's and a pluralist, (fn. 205) was certainly non-resident in the early 16th century and his church in consequence was somewhat neglected. It was reported in about 1520 that the door of the chancel (ostium concelli) was insufficient, the windows and sedilia in both chancel and nave dilapidated, the Rectory out of repair, and the cemetery not enclosed. (fn. 206)
In 1522, when a Fellow of Queen's became rector, began the close connexion between Charlton and the college. There were initial troubles, but on the whole it had the beneficial result of the parish's having rectors of more than average ability and often men of considerable eminence, for example, Master Edward Hilton (1522–?) (fn. 207) and Provost Dennyson (see above). Provost Scot, the first rector to be presented by the college, though able, impoverished the living by leasing the rectory on a long lease. By its terms no more than a room in the parsonage house was reserved to the rector and £20 a year, or £30 if he should serve the cure. (fn. 208) If he did not, the lessor was to hire a curate. One rector, John Sheppard (1581– 1605), who resided with his family for part of the year, condemned the lease as wholly detrimental to the parish, particularly as the glebe was being alienated and exchanged on inclosure. (fn. 209) In the circumstances, though many contemporaries criticized Provost Airay for the years of litigation, it is difficult not to recognize the justice of the arguments advanced in the Just and Necessary Apologie of Henry Airay ...touching his suite in law for the rectorie of Charleton. (fn. 210) It was argued that not only had a rich living been bringing in only about a fifth of its value to the rector, but that the needs of the parish, 'where there are three villages and much people', were being completely disregarded. The allowance of £30, specified in the lease, had been insufficient to maintain 'any fit Minister' for the instruction of so many people.
Unfortunately Thomas Garth (1615–43), who reaped the financial reward of the recent years of struggle, was at best an unsuccessful pastor. (fn. 211) In 1618 he was summoned before the church court on various charges, one of which was clearly malicious, and several of his parishioners were witnesses against him. (fn. 212) One yeoman witness said he was 'exceedingly negligent in the discharge of his cure here' and had read no prayers in the church on fourteen Sundays in the last year; another witness remembered occasions when there were no prayers except for twice in the evening. It was also alleged that one of the parishioners had brought a child to be christened, but there being no minister had taken it to another church, and all were said to be 'offended at being disappointed of their prayers' and at the minister's refusal to christen, church, and bury. On the other hand, it was stated that once during morning prayers the rector left the church in his surplice, to the 'admiration of all or most of the congregation', and went from house to house to collect absent parishioners, among them the ale-house keeper. It seems clear from this case and from the fact that Garth leased the Rectory house that he was non-resident and served the church from Oxford. His lease led him into further trouble with the parish: in 1634 he accused Allen Roberts, a husbandman of Fencott and for many years the lessee of the rectory, of neglecting to keep the house in repair. He described it as gone 'to decaye, the outhouses quite ruined, the gardens layde open and other edifices... demolished'. (fn. 213) Two years later Garth was in prison for a debt to another lessee of the rectory, who he alleged had a 'pretended lease', and he petitioned both the king and the archbishop on the matter. (fn. 214)
During the second half of the 17th century Charlton had two other distinguished rectors. One, Thomas Lamplugh (c. 1658–85), was a future Bishop of Exeter and Archbishop of York. (fn. 215) After 1664, when he became Principal of Alban Hall in Oxford, he seems to have lived for a part of the year at the Rectory and to have occupied himself with his charge. (fn. 216) Although appointed to Charlton under the Commonwealth, he survived the Restoration, having, as Wood puts it, 'cringed' to the Presbyterians and then to the Royalists. (fn. 217) He was succeeded in 1685 by Provost Halton of the Queen's College, who spent 'near £2,000' on rebuilding 'a noble parsonage' for his own and the church's benefit. (fn. 218)
Eighteenth-century rectors were all Fellows of Queen's and except for John Hill (1721–45) and John Lowry (1753–84), who lived in the parish out of term until 1768, did not reside. Some, however, it may be noted, remembered the parish in their wills, (fn. 219) and at least some kept a resident curate. One curate, a Fellow of Queen's, at a salary of 40 guineas, did good work in the 1730's. (fn. 220) He held two services on Sundays, read daily prayers in Passion Week, and administered the sacrament five times a year: his zeal was reflected in the very fair number of communicants, 150 at Easter and 80 at other times. (fn. 221) By 1759 the number had dropped to between 40 and 80, but attendance at church was considered good and few persons of the 'lower rank' were reported absent. (fn. 222) Towards the end of the century conditions worsened. Elderly and sick non-resident rectors (fn. 223) could do little for the parish, and curates were badly paid. The number of communicants fell from about 40 in 1778 to between six and eight in 1805; (fn. 224) the contrast with the figures in the early 18th century is still sharper.
A change took place with the arrival of the energetic John Knipe, a former chaplain to the British Embassy in Hamburg. (fn. 225) He found the people 'sunk into a strange state of demoralization', but about 1823 he told the local historian Dunkin that he considered them then 'as orderly and devout as any in the county'. (fn. 226) He had not been afraid to fight the prevailing vice of drunkenness and to use his powers as magistrate to prevent the renewal of the licence to the local innkeeper, whom he considered unsuitable. (fn. 227) By 1830, however, he was over £2,000 in debt as a result of rebuilding the Rectory and was given two years' leave of absence by the bishop, on condition that he hired a resident curate. (fn. 228)
The backward moral and spiritual state of the parish caused general concern for the rest of the century. It was unfortunate that for many years it was without an able rector. Knipe never returned to Charlton, and until his death in 1845 the parish was in charge of a curate. He was followed by George Riggs (1846–55), whom Bishop Wilberforce summed up in the words 'inactive—drone—bee in a bottle'. (fn. 229) It is therefore not surprising to find that congregations were small and had diminished since the institution of two sermons, and that the bishop found 'no warmth or enthusiasm' when he confirmed at Charlton in 1855. (fn. 230) Henry Gough, who became rector in 1856, was so depressed by the lamentable state of the parish with its 'drunkenness, indifference and dissent', that he thought the institution of monthly communions would be welcomed by none and that the great majority of communicants would be absent. (fn. 231) Thomas Falcon (1862–83) was the first to make much impression. He was active, an excellent scholar, and he greatly improved the Rectory. (fn. 232) He built the school (fn. 233) and doubled the numbers of his congregations and communicants. Considering the wide prevalence of nonconformity in the parish, he thought that church members bore a fair proportion to the population. (fn. 234) The mission room built at Murcott in about 1890 in his successor's time is a witness to the increasing activity of the church. (fn. 235)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN is a stone building, dating mainly from the 13th and 14th centuries and comprising a chancel, clerestoried nave, north and south aisles, western tower, and south porch. (fn. 236) The 13th-century nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of three arches. The northern arcade has remains of contemporary painted decoration on both arches and pillars. The three windows with quatrefoil tracery on the north side of the clerestory are probably of the same date. The tower arch is a good example of early-13th-century work. Also of the 13th century is the lower part of the tower with a lancet window in the west wall, the south aisle with its plain doorway and porch, and the walls of the north aisle.
The church was extensively altered in the 14th century. New windows were inserted in the north aisle and on the west and south sides of the south aisle. In both aisles traces of an altar and piscina are to be found. An embattled upper story with crocketed pinnacles at the angles was added to the tower. The chancel was rebuilt towards the end of the 14th century, perhaps by the rector John de Craneforde (see below). The east window has four lights and reticulated tracery; the three sedilia and piscina on the south side are 14th-century as well as the plain recess opposite, which was perhaps an Easter sepulchre. In the 15th or early 16th century a new window was inserted in the south aisle, and the two-light clerestory windows on the south side may be also 16th-century.
The church has been little restored. In 1757 the roof was repaired, in 1771 a gallery was erected (since removed), and in 1807 the roof was again repaired. (fn. 237) In 1857 the roof and north wall, then in a bad state, were restored (architect G. E. Street); the flat plaster ceiling in the chancel, there in 1846, may have been removed then, and the rafters of the nave partially uncovered. (fn. 238) New seats and flooring were also installed. (fn. 239) The tower was repaired in 1954, and in 1955 the church was reroofed and the plaster ceiling of the nave was totally removed so as to expose the medieval roof-timbers.
The chief glory of the church is the richly carved rood-loft and screen, dating probably from the beginning of the 16th century and thoroughly restored in 1889. (fn. 240) The gallery (about 3 ft. wide) rises from slender carved pillars and is supported by intersecting ribs with elaborate tracery. The screen is surmounted by a cross, which stands some 3 feet high, and is decorated with box shrub and flowers on 1 May, the feast of the dedication of the church, and again for the harvest festival. It is an immemorial custom to carry it round the parish in a May-day procession. (fn. 241)
There are some fragments of glass in the chancel windows, including a medieval figure of the Virgin and child, and a shield to Joseph Williamson of the Queen's College in the east window. (fn. 242) There are still some medieval tiles. (fn. 243) During the 1955 restoration some wall-paintings were uncovered on the north and south walls of the nave.
The stone font is plain and round with a pyramidshaped cover of wood. (fn. 244) The 17th-century oak altar rails are carved in the style of Grinling Gibbons, and the pulpit of panelled oak is dated 1616.
In the chancel there are stone slabs to John de Craneforde, rector (1369–?), with fleurie cross and an indecipherable inscription, to Adam Airay, to K. L. (Katherine Lamplugh), and Thomas Yates, rector (d. 1721). There are a brass with the figure of a priest in a cope to Thomas Key, rector (1467–75); monuments to Adam Airay, rector (d. 1658); Katherine (d. 1671), wife of Thomas Lamplugh, rector; Robert Benn, rector (d. 1752); and tablets to William Westcar (d. 1806); to John Knipe, rector (d. 1845), and to George Riggs, rector (d. 1855). (fn. 245)
It is recorded in 1552 that the church owned among other things one silver and one gilt chalice, and there were four great bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 246) The plate now (1956) includes a large gilt chalice and paten cover (1670) given by Thomas Lamplugh. (fn. 247) The present tower has a ring of five bells, of which two are 17th-century and two 18th-century. The sanctus bell is dated 1793. (fn. 248)
The registers date from 1577. There are churchwardens' accounts from 1747.
In the churchyard are the pediment and shaft of an early cross, raised on three steps. (fn. 249)
No record has been found of Roman Catholicism.
No Protestant dissenters are recorded in the Compton Census of 1676, although in 1668 the rector, Thomas Lamplugh, had written that there was scarcely a parish around Charlton which was not infected by the sectarian influence from Bicester. 'Unless speedily suppressed', dissenters would grow so numerous 'that I dread the event'. (fn. 250)
There is no further record of dissent until the beginning of the 19th century, when both the Baptists and the Methodists acquired a considerable following. In 1802 the Methodists had a meetingplace at Fencott; there was no resident teacher, but some 'low mechanic' was reported to come and 'arayne men', and sometimes the meetings were addressed by James Hinton, the well-known preacher who was descended from a family long established in Charlton, which had turned to dissent in the mid-18th century. (fn. 251)
The Baptists opened their first meeting-house in 1810, (fn. 252) and the present stone chapel in the village street was built in 1835; by 1851 the congregation numbered 55. (fn. 253) The chapel is still in use and is a member of the Oxford Fellowship. (fn. 254)
The Methodists registered a meeting-place in Charlton in 1829 (fn. 255) and in 1840 a chapel was built. The congregation was small, only about 30 in 1851, and the chapel ceased being used towards the end of the century. (fn. 256) In 1920 it was sold for £30 to the rector for a club room. It is still standing, but now unused. (fn. 257)
In 1829 a barn in Murcott and in 1834 a barn in Fencott, the latter belonging to Thomas Wainwright, publican, were registered for worship. (fn. 258) In 1845 a Primitive Methodist chapel was built in Murcott. (fn. 259) The trust deeds date from 1843, and the trustees included a shoemaker and three Murcott labourers. (fn. 260) This chapel, now Methodist, is in the Oxford Circuit and has twenty members. (fn. 261)
With these three chapels, in the mid-19th century Charlton was a nonconformist centre, and people from other parishes, such as Oddington, used to come there. Towards the end of the century there was still a fairly large nonconformist community. (fn. 262)
In 1759 it was reported that the rector was teaching a few children reading and writing at his own expense, but no further teaching is recorded until 1815, when about fifteen children were taught reading during the winter months, and when the farmers were said to be too poor to pay for a school. (fn. 263) There was no elementary school in 1819, (fn. 264) but by 1833 there were four day schools with 70 pupils in all, paid for by their parents. (fn. 265) In 1854 the rector reported that he supported two dame schools, but that the parish was unwilling to pay for a proper school: some farmers sent their sons to Dr. South's School at Islip. (fn. 266)
The inclosure award of 1858 set aside a plot of land for a school, (fn. 267) and in 1866 Charlton Parochial School and a master's house were built, mainly at the expense of the rector. (fn. 268) In 1871 there were 55 children attending, drawn from Fencott and Murcott as well as Charlton. (fn. 269) Numbers had risen to 81 by 1889, and in 1892 an additional classroom was built. (fn. 270) Occasional grants were received from the National Society. The school had 133 pupils in 1906, (fn. 271) and in 1937, after its reorganization as a junior school, 46. It became a controlled school in 1951, and had 60 pupils in 1954. (fn. 272)
Alice Coales (d. 1616) left by her will £1 for the poor of Charlton: of the annual interest 1s. 6d. was to be given to the poor, and 6d. to the bellringers on Coronation Day. John Poole (d. 1688) bequeathed £5, the interest on which was to be distributed to the poor on St. Thomas's Day.
By his will, of unknown date, William Halton, Vicar of Probus (Cornw.) from 1679, (fn. 273) left £20 as a poor stock. Thomas Lamplugh, Archbishop of York and a former Rector of Charlton, by will dated 1691, left £5 to the poor of Charlton. Dr. Thomas Yates, Rector of Charlton, by will dated 1721 left £10, the interest on which was to be distributed to the poor of Charlton each Ascension Day. These bequests were held as a poor stock of £41 until 1724, when £38 was spent on the purchase of property, which later appears as three cottages. They were occupied rentfree by poor people until about 1810, when a rent of £5 5s. was paid out of the poor rates. (fn. 274)
To the £3 left in 1724 was added £10 left by Dr. Yates's widow, by a will dated 1746, and £10 left by John Lowry, Rector of Charlton, by his will dated 1784. Of this £23 all but 10s.—which was unaccounted for—was spent on road repairs at some time after 1786. In 1810 it was acknowledged that the parish owed the poor £22 10s., and in the following year £3 10s. 7d. was paid for repairs to the cottages and £18 11s. 5d. was put to pay for the erection of a coal-house for the poor—the parish paying 18s. 9d. interest each year to the charity funds.
Between 1811 and 1817 the rent of the cottages and the interest on the £18 11s. 5d., together with liberal contributions from the rector, John Knipe, were used to supply the poor with cheap coal. Under the Otmoor inclosure award of 1815 an allotment of about ¾ acre was made to the poor of Charlton in right of the cottages. The draining and fencing of the allotment cost nearly £30, paid off by 1824, and the funds were thereafter again used to provide cheap coal. The allotment was let at £1 10s. a year. (fn. 275) In the late 19th century there were four cottages, and the rents paid into the fuel fund amounted to about £8 a year. (fn. 276)
Besides their bequests to the poor of Charlton, Archbishop Lamplugh left £5 and Dr. Yates, Mrs. Yates, and John Lowry left £10 each to the poor of Fencott and Murcott. Richard Phillips, by will dated 1781, bequeathed £3, and before 1786 further sums of £10 and £7 10s. came from unknown donors. By 1824, however, £23 15s. had been lost. In 1818 an acre of land on Otmoor costing £60 was bought and later paid for out of the charity money. The acre was let at £2 10s. a year, which was spent on coal for the poor at Christmas. (fn. 277)
George Hayton, rector 1884–95, is said to have augmented the parish charities. By 1954 the poor's cottages were under a demolition order. The poor's field was let annually by auction at the parish meeting. The annual income of all the charities, now united as 'the charity of Hayton and others', was about £10, which was distributed from time to time at the discretion of the trustees. (fn. 278)