Parishes: Emmington

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.

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'Parishes: Emmington', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds, ed. Mary D Lobel( London, 1964), British History Online [accessed 15 July 2024].

'Parishes: Emmington', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. Edited by Mary D Lobel( London, 1964), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024,

"Parishes: Emmington". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. Ed. Mary D Lobel(London, 1964), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024.

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The ancient parish covered only 740 acres before 1932, (fn. 1) when it was united with Chinnor for civil purposes. (fn. 2) The combined parishes now cover 3,450 acres. Emmington lies in the plain on the north side of the Chilterns; it was bounded in the north by the county boundary between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and on the west a small stream, running parallel with the main road from Thame to Chinnor, was its only natural boundary.

The ancient parish lay in the Clay belt and was mostly about 270 feet above sea level, but in the centre and south the land rose slightly to about 325 feet. (fn. 3) Since 1877 at least the village has been approached by a road branching off the Thame-Chinnor road at the point where the 'Plough and Harrow' stands, but this road is not marked on Sir Henry Ashhurst's map of 1697 or on Davis's map of 1797. (fn. 4) The main approach used to be by the old TowerseyChinnor road, called Burgidge Way at the Chinnor end, which ran to the east of the village. Both this way and the way to Henton, shown on the maps of 1697 and 1797, disappeared when Chinnor fields were inclosed. (fn. 5)

The village stands on a slight eminence at about 315 feet up and is T-shaped. (fn. 6) Village Farm and a few cottages lie along the arms of the T, and Manor Farm and the one-time Rectory lie in the main street. The church which lies to the south can only be reached by a grass path. The manor-house no longer exists. In the Middle Ages it belonged to the Sackville family, and deeds were often witnessed by them at Emmington. (fn. 7) There is a record in 1275 and 1316, in the time of Jordan and Andrew de Sackville, of the house's court or close, its garden and dovecot. (fn. 8)

In the 15th century the family was allied by marriage with the Malyns family, their neighbours at Henton, in Chinnor. (fn. 9) In the 16th and 17th centuries the house was the home of the Hampden family, notably of Richard Hampden, the cousin of the parliamentarian John Hampden, (fn. 10) and the tradition that the house was blown up by gunpowder in the Civil War is likely to be correct. Opposing troops were frequently in the neighbourhood; the house does not appear in the hearth-tax lists of the 1660s, and Sir Henry Ashhurst's map of 1697 shows only what appear to be a part of its foundations in the large Court Close, lying to the south of the church. (fn. 11) The cartographer seems to have drawn the stonepaved fish-pond and a part of the moat, of which traces can still be seen today.

Manor Farm was by far the largest house in the village in 1665, when Jeremiah White returned eight hearths for the hearth tax, and the map of 1697 shows it as a large L-shaped house with four bays in the main wing and one bay in the other wing. (fn. 12) A part of the old building still remains: the main wing was refronted in the 18th century with chequer brick and given some sash windows, but its original timber construction can be seen at the back. The other wing has been pulled down. What may have been a brewhouse, judging from the name Bruehouse Close adjoining it, (fn. 13) which was standing in front of Manor Farm in 1697, has also been pulled down. The Rectory, a private house since 1908, was largely rebuilt in 1874 by the architect, E. G. Bruton, although its Jacobean wing of brick with a massive chimney-stack was retained; the builders were Messrs. Holland of Thame. (fn. 14) In 1818, after a long period of non-resident rectors, the old house was said to be only a cottage and unfit for a clergyman's residence; in 1852 it was described as a 'very old neglected building'. (fn. 15) Village Farm, occupied by Thomas Howlett in 1697, is still substantially a 17th-century house, although like Manor Farm it has been refronted at a later date with chequer brick. Some of the 17th-century smaller houses have also survived as cottages. What is now called the Old Gamekeeper's Cottage was the house of Joseph Cox, a carpenter. (fn. 16)

In the past the village was always a compact one. In 1738 and 1759 there were said to be thirteen houses and the rector stated that the 'furthest was not a furlong from the church'. (fn. 17) Waterlands Farm, the only dwelling outside the village until modern times, was built in the early 19th century. (fn. 18) In the 20th century new cottages were built along the road connecting the village with the Thame road.

Emmington has always been entirely concerned with agriculture, and has no claims to any special distinction.


In 1086 William Peverel held the 10 hides in EMMINGTON (fn. 19) which a certain Alwin had held before the Conquest. (fn. 20) Together with Mollington, this estate formed the Oxfordshire part of the honor of Peverel until 1235–6. (fn. 21) In 1242–3 Mollington was still in the honor, but Emmington was said to be held of the king. (fn. 22) It did suit at the hundred court of Lewknor, (fn. 23) to which the lord of the manor owed certain dues. In 1273 these were said to be 8s. hidage and 2½d. wardsilver. (fn. 24) As the hundred was attached to Wallingford honor from 1244 onwards (fn. 25) the manor could be described in 1394 as held of the king 'as of his honor of Wallingford.' (fn. 26) It formed part of the honor (fn. 27) and of its successor, the honor of Ewelme until the mid-19th century. (fn. 28)

Emmington, which was rated as 1 knight's fee, was unusual in being held for nearly 400 years by one family, the Sackvilles, a family of Norman origin, which played a prominent part in the history of Sussex and often served as knights of the shire and sheriffs for the county. The first known member of the family at Emmington was Geoffrey de Sackville, the son of Jordan, a landholder in Essex, who married Ela de Dene, a Sussex heiress, and died in 1175 or 1176. (fn. 29) Geoffrey was of age and a knight by about 1190. (fn. 30) He probably did not acquire Emmington until after 1200, for between 1199 and 1203 the manor was in the sheriff's hands and 4 marks scutage were paid on the 2 fees of Emmington and Mollington. (fn. 31) Soon after 1200 Geoffrey de Sackville held a 2½-fee in Oxfordshire; (fn. 32) this must have represented Emmington, which he held in 1212, although it was then rated as 1 fee. (fn. 33) He was still alive in 1228, (fn. 34) but may have been dead by 1230 when his son Jordan had letters of protection on accompanying the king to France. (fn. 35) Jordan died in 1232 or 1233, and the lands which he held of Peverel honor and the wardship of his heir were given in custody to Ralph FitzNicholas, (fn. 36) a steward of the king's household, who was returned as holding the Emmington fee in 1235. (fn. 37) In 1242–3 the manor was in the custody of Nicholas Moles. (fn. 38) Jordan's heir was another Jordan, probably his son, and the Jordan son of Jordan who confirmed his ancestors' grants to Colchester Abbey. (fn. 39) By 1255 he was in possession of Emmington. (fn. 40) The younger Jordan appears to have been an adherent of De Montfort and consequently some of his manors were confiscated in 1265. (fn. 41) He died in 1273 and was succeeded by his son Andrew, aged about 21, who held Emmington in 1279. (fn. 42) Andrew died probably in 1290 for in January 1291 his widow Ermentrude had custody of his lands and of his heir Andrew II, who came of age in about 1300. (fn. 43) In 1304 Andrew II had free warren for himself and his heirs in his demesne lands in Emmington, because of his good service in Scotland. (fn. 44) He was returned as holding the manor in 1316, (fn. 45) but died in the same year, leaving as his heir a son Andrew III, aged about nine. (fn. 46) His widow Joan was granted one-third of the manor as dower, and custody of the other two-thirds during the minority was granted to Robert de Sapey of Chinnor and Crowell in part payment of his expenses incurred in the Scottish wars. (fn. 47) In 1327 Andrew had delivery of his lands on coming of age (fn. 48) and in 1347 the grant of free warren in Emmington and his other lands was renewed. (fn. 49)

Sir Andrew de Sackville had two wives. By the first, Joan de la Beche, he had a son, Sir Andrew, who died before his father; (fn. 50) by his second wife Maud he had no children. But Andrew had two other children, Thomas and Alice, the children of Joan Burgess, and they were apparently illegitimate. He died in 1369, (fn. 51) and Emmington was then held for life by his widow Maud, who married as her second husband, Sir Edmund de la Pole, the younger brother of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. (fn. 52) On her death in 1393, the succession to Emmington was disputed. According to the entail, it was to go to the right heirs of Andrew de Sackville, with remainder to Thomas de Sackville (or Burgess). (fn. 53) Thomas, by this time a prominent Sussex knight, who had inherited his father's other property, (fn. 54) was given possession, but his right to the manor was questioned by another Sir Thomas de Sackville, lord of Fawley (Bucks.), a distant cousin, who claimed to be Sir Andrew de Sackville's right heir. (fn. 55)

Thomas de Sackville of Buckhurst (Suss.) was in possession of Emmington in 1407, when he presented to the church, but the presentation of 1411 was by a group of trustees, including the Recorder of London, on whom he had settled both manor and advowson. (fn. 56) In 1426 he entailed Emmington on his son Edward, (fn. 57) who in 1432 succeeded his father (fn. 58) and died in 1450. (fn. 59) Edward's son Humphrey, for whom he had placed the manor in trust, lived until 1488. (fn. 60) In the meantime the Sackvilles of Fawley had again been attempting to get possession of Emmington, tracing their ancestry back to the 13thcentury Sackvilles of Emmington. There appears to have been no foundation for their claim: the two families probably descended from two sons of Herbrand, the Domesday tenant of Fawley, and since at least the early 12th century had been quite separate. (fn. 61) Nevertheless, in a case in 1437, in which Edward Sackville sued Sir Thomas Sackville of Fawley for cutting down trees at Emmington the latter unsuccessfully claimed to be the right heir of Andrew de Sackville, as Andrew's son Thomas had been illegitimate. (fn. 62) On a later occasion, in the 1470s, Thomas Rookes, the husband of Margery Sackville, the heiress of Fawley, again put forward a claim. He was in possession of the advowson (fn. 63) and, when sued for it by Humphrey Sackville, claimed that it should belong to the Sackvilles of Fawley and gave a pedigree going back ten generations to a Jordan de Sackville. (fn. 64) The dispute was brought to an end in 1482, when Rookes publicly quitclaimed Emmington manor to Sackville, in front of ten Emmington tenants. (fn. 65)

Humphrey Sackville was succeeded by his son Richard, (fn. 66) who was knighted and died in 1524, being succeeded by his eldest son John. His second son Richard was to have an annuity of 20 marks a year from Emmington manor. (fn. 67) John married Margaret Boleyn, the aunt of Queen Anne Boleyn, and died in 1557; in his will he left £ 1 to his Emmington tenants. (fn. 68) He was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Sackville, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations and for many years an M.P., who on his death in 1566 left Emmington for life to his widow Winifred, daughter of Sir John Bruges, Mayor of London, who married as her second husband John Paulet, Marquess of Winchester. (fn. 69) Sir Richard's son Sir Thomas Sackville, who in 1567 was created Lord Buckhurst and in 1604 Marquess of Dorset, in 1577 sold to Sir George Peckham of Dinton (Bucks.) the reversion of Emmington, excluding the advowson, and reserving to himself hunting rights and an annual rent of £30 from the manor. (fn. 70) Peckham granted Emmington to his younger son George, who in 1586, the year of Lady Winchester's death, sold it for £2,200 to William Hampden. (fn. 71)

Hampden, who lived at Emmington, was a cousin of the Hampdens of Great Hampden, (fn. 72) and on his death in 1613 was buried in Great Hampden church. (fn. 73) Emmington was inherited by his eldest son Richard, (fn. 74) who was probably the Richard Hampden mentioned in the will of John Hampden, who was mortally wounded at Chalgrove, (fn. 75) and may have been the Richard Hampden, lord of Emmington, who was buried in Great Hampden church early in 1660. (fn. 76) After his death Emmington was held by Elizabeth Hampden, widow, under the terms of the will of her second son Richard, and she granted it to her grandson, another Richard, (fn. 77) who at once took steps to raise money on the manor. In 1665 he and his wife Lettice sold it for about £5,000 to Henry Ashhurst, a Merchant Taylor of London. (fn. 78) Ashhurst died in 1680, and Emmington was inherited by his eldest son Sir Henry, who in 1691 bought Waterstock manor. Emmington belonged to the Ashhursts and followed the same descent as Waterstock (fn. 79) until about 1805, when it was acquired by Philip T. Wykeham of Tythrop House (Bucks.). (fn. 80) He was succeeded in 1832 by his son, Philip Thomas Herbert Wykeham, who in 1870 inherited Thame Park. (fn. 81) On his death in 1879 his heirs were the sons of his brother, Aubrey Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave. Tythrop and Emmington were inherited by the younger, Philip James Digby Wykeham, who married a daughter of Joseph John Henley of Waterperry. (fn. 82) He was succeeded in 1924 by his son Aubrey Augustus Henry Wykeham, who in 1929 sold Emmington to Magdalen College, the present lord of the manor.

Agrarian and Social History.

A small number of Roman coins have been found in the parish, some at Down Covert north of the village on the county boundary and others near the Sydenham boundary. (fn. 83) The record of continuous occupation begins, however, in the Anglo-Saxon period. Emmington may have been settled in the 6th century or earlier: the name means 'Eama's farm' and placenames with the ending 'ingtun' are likely to be of early date. (fn. 84) Both before and after the Conquest it was held with Crowell by one man, first by the Saxon Alwin and then by the Norman William Peverel. Emmington was said to have land for 5 ploughs, but 7 ploughs were at work, 2 on the demesne where there were 6 serfs, and 5 that were shared by 10 villeins and 4 bordars. Twelve acres of meadow are recorded. The value of the estate had risen since the Conquest from £6 to £7. (fn. 85) By 1255 it was said to be worth £10 (fn. 86) and twenty years later it was valued at £20. The manor included 20 acres of meadow valued at 3s. an acre, 130½ acres and 1 piece of arable, valued at 10d. an acre and amounting in all to £9 8s. 7½d., and 10½ acres of pasture, valued at 1s. an acre. (fn. 87) Assized rents were also included, but were more fully described in the 1279 hundred rolls. The meadow was valued highly, and the arable exceptionally highly, but it is not surprising in view of the great reputation for fertility that the Thame valley has always had.

In 1279 there were 16 virgates in demesne with meadow and pasture, and 19½ virgates were held by 18 virgaters and 4 half-virgaters and there were 4 free virgates. The virgater paid 3s. 6d. rent a year and owed works at the lord's pleasure from Midsummer (24 June) to Lammas (1 Aug.) each week for 3 days with one man at his own cost, and from Lammas to Michaelmas (29 Sept.) each week for 5 days with one man. He also owed 2 bedreaps with one man at his own cost, and was then released from payment of 10½d. of his rent for the Michaelmas term. His daughters could not marry without licence. Two half-virgaters paid 2s. 3d. rent and owed similar works; another paid 2s. rent and if the lord wished had to hold the lord's plough. If he did this work he was quit of rent. The fourth half-virgater, the smith, made the ploughshares of two of the lord's ploughs and apparently owed no works or rent. A Nicholas Clement held 2 free virgates for 13s. 4d. and paid suit at the lord's court and at the hundred court. Nicholas Franklin with 1 free virgate paid 5s. and had to ride on the lord's business; he had to come with one man to the reaping and haymaking, but the lord gave him food on these occasions. A third virgater held freely for 2s. on a life lease. (fn. 88) After another 40 years, judging from another extent, the manor may have declined in value, but it is impossible to make any certain comparisons between extents of different dates. There was a messuage with a close and garden in demesne, valued at 6s. 8d.; 185 acres of arable were valued at only 4d. an acre, much less than in 1275; 9½ acres of meadow were valued at 1s. 3d. an acre and 18 acres of pasture at 6d. an acre; customary labour was apparently utilized as much as possible. There were 20 customary tenants paying the same rent as in 1279 and performing works; as before, they obtained a reduction in their rent if they worked, a day's work being valued at ¼d.; they were also allowed 1¼d. a day over the harvest period and 1d. a day when mowing: this may reflect some new arrangement about works since 1279. Nine tenants were described as cottars; their total rent came to £1 12s. 6d. and they had to help at haymaking for 2 days and at reaping for another 2 days. In addition to his duty of repairing the lord's plough, the smith had to pay 3s. 4d. rent. Court profits were valued at 2s. a year and the whole estate was said to be worth £11 9s. 11½d. (fn. 89)

This extent recorded 29 tenants of the manor and in the same year there were 15 contributors to the tax of a 16th, when £1 13s. 1d. was raised. Ten years earlier 20 or more inhabitants had contributed when £1 16s. 9d. was raised for the 30th, and in 1327 24 contributed £2 3s. 9d. for the 20th. Emmington's inhabitants were only moderately prosperous; in 1316 they mostly paid under 2s. compared with the 12s. 3d. paid by the lady of the manor, Joan de Sackville; in 1327 over half the contributors again paid less than 2s. After 1334 the village's contribution was fixed at £2 16s. 3d., a medium-size assessment for the hundred and almost twice that of Crowell's. (fn. 90) Almost nothing is known of the village's economic life in the 15th century. (fn. 91) In the 16th century it was moderately prosperous with a number of husbandmenor small yeoman farmers, but with no one of outstanding wealth. Eight inhabitants contributed to the 1525 subsidy, and the total sum paid was only 21s. In 1577 again eight inhabitants contributed to the subsidy and were assessed on comparatively small amounts in goods, between £3 to £5. (fn. 92)

In the 17th century such evidence as there is indicates that Emmington may have been a smaller village than it was in the 13th and 14th centuries. Only 11 persons were considered eligible for the hearth tax of 1662, the Compton Census recorded 36 adults in 1676, and there appear to be no more than II houses and cottages on an estate map of 1697. (fn. 93)

The inclosure of the common fields, which was completed before the end of the century, must have contributed to this depopulation. The map of 1697 shows the old arable open fields divided into several large holdings and the common pasture divided into closes. The survival of furlong names in the north and south-east of the parish for about 335 acres out of the total of 675 acres under cultivation roughly indicates the position of the former open fields. The largest holdings of 47 and 27 acres were occupied by John and Thomas Howlett respectively and another Howlett held two fields of 23 acres and 20 acres. There were a number of smaller closes near the village and various large pasture-closes. Town End pasture (14 a.), for instance, lay at the end of the village street, three pasture inclosures (49 a. in all) lay to the east of Thameway, and there were two others of 15 and 16 acres respectively. Eighty-seven acres of meadow are shown: of these 40 acres divided into 3-acre strips lay in the south along the Chinnor boundary by a road called Burgidge Way, which has long been disused; 24 acres in 1-and 2-acre lost lay west of the 'road from London to Thame' (the present Thame-Chinnor road); and the rest lay in Grove Mead (14 a.) and Down Mead (9 a.) in the north-east of the parish. (fn. 94)

In the 18th century the Whites at the Manor farm were the principal farmers. It is noteworthy that in 1712 William White employed four 'servants' and that three of the other farmers were each employing two. (fn. 95) As the land was inclosed nine out of the thirteen houses recorded in 1759 were inhabited by 'labourers'. (fn. 96) The good grazing land, however, and the proximity of the Oxford and Thame markets with their constant demand for butcher's meat ensured a fair livelihood to the villagers, and there was less poverty than in more populous uninclosed villages. The poor-rate at the end of the 18th century was among the lowest in the county, being only 2s. 4d., whereas the county average was 4s. 6d. and the hundred average 6s. 2d. (fn. 97) Nevertheless, by the end of the Napoleonic wars there were twelve paupers in Emmington out of a population of about seventy. (fn. 98)

Another consequence of inclosure was the absence of the smallholder. From 1786 to 1804 Sir William Ashhurst's four tenants farmed land assessed for the land tax at £22, £6, £6, and £2 respectively. From 1805 to 1832 two tenant farmers farmed all four farms. (fn. 99) By 1841, when the tithe award was made, three of the farms were in the hands of the North family. Field farm (later Waterlands) does not appear to have existed before the second half of the 18th century, since its homestead was built some time after 1759. The other farms were Emmington farm (later Village farm) of 216 acres, Manor farm (194 a.) and Grove farm (125 a.). Half this land was arable (336 a.) and half meadow and pasture (335 a.). The map shows that all the fields were hedged and that there had been practically no change in field boundaries since 1697. But as a consequence of single ownership there had been a good deal of tree planting. No woodland appears on the 1697 map, but in 1841 there were 43 acres, mostly described as 'plantations'. These included Down Covert and part of Great Covert and twenty small clumps and shelter belts of an acre or less. (fn. 100)

The general tendency towards the amalgamation of farms is seen at Emmington in the late 19th century and after. By 1895 P. J. D. Wykeham at Village farm farmed 259 acres, having taken over 43 acres from Grove farm; by 1925 Grange farm (or Grove) and Waterlands had combined. (fn. 101) Some light is thrown on the conditions of farming in this period by a series of leases: in 1906 the tenant was to find wheat straw for thatching and to cultivate the arable land on the regular four-course system, he was not to crop with more than two white-straw crops in any four years and then not with the same kind of grain, nor was he to plant more than ¼-acre with potatoes. Vetches saved for seed were to count as a white-straw crop. He was not to mow more than half the grass-land in any year and no part twice in a year. He was to consume on the farm all the hay, straw, roots, and green crops produced, but he might sell his first crop of clover hay and his meadow hay and wheat straw provided he brought back cake or other artificial food to the manurial value of 25s. for each ton so sold. Thistles were to be cut twice yearly, ditches cleansed, and hedges made and plashed annually. Permanent grass was not to be ploughed. Beans and other pulse were to be hoed at least twice and weeded. Turnip, rape, flax, hemp, and other unusual or exhausting crops were forbidden. (fn. 102)

There were no shopkeepers or other traders recorded in the 19th-century directories for Emmington. In 1851 there was one shepherd and two gamekeepers, but most Emmington men worked on the land as agricultural labourers while their wives were lacemakers as in neighbouring villages. (fn. 103) Like many other Oxfordshire parishes, Emmington reached its peak in population by the mid-19th century: there were between 70 and 80 inhabitants in 1801 to 1831, but 104 by 1851. The population then declined to 75 in 1881 and 44 in 1901 and remained at that level until 1932, when the parish was merged with Chinnor. (fn. 104) In 1951 the population of the ecclesiastical parish was 39. (fn. 105)


A priest at Emmington is mentioned in about 1190, and from the first recorded presentation in 1224, when Sir Geoffrey de Sackville was patron, the advowson in the Middle Ages descended with the manor. (fn. 106) In 1317 and 1319, during the minority of Andrew de Sackville, the king presented. (fn. 107) In the 1470s the advowson was the subject of litigation between Humphrey Sackville, lord of the manor, and Thomas Rookes of Fawley (Bucks.), who had long been claiming Emmington manor. Rookes presented to Emmington church in 1474, and when in 1476 he was sued by Humphrey Sackville for the advowson, he apparently claimed that after the death of Andrew de Sackville in 1369 without legitimate heirs, it should have been inherited by Thomas de Sackville of Fawley. (fn. 108) He seems to have won his case, for he presented again in 1480. In 1482 he gave up his claim to Emmington manor, and the advowson then returned to the Sackvilles. On the death of Sir Richard Sackville in 1524, the manor was inherited by his eldest son John; the Richard Sackville who sold the presentation of 1537 may have been either John's younger brother (fn. 109) or John's son and heir, Sir Richard Sackville.

On the latter's death in 1566 he left the advowson with the manor for life to his wife, who married as her second husband the Marquess of Winchester. (fn. 110) Although the queen presented by lapse in 1584, Lady Winchester sold the presentation of 1585 to Thomas Whitfield, a Sussex gentleman, who presented William Whitfield, no doubt a relative. (fn. 111) In 1577, when Sir Thomas Sackville sold the reversion of the manor, the advowson was excluded from the sale; but by a separate transaction he sold the next three presentations to Sir George Peckham, who had also bought the manor and gave them with the manor to his younger son George. George Peckham sold them to William Hampden, who also became lord of the manor. (fn. 112) Hampden presented in 1605 and Richard Hampden did so in 1638, when Barton Holiday became rector, (fn. 113) and he probably also presented again later on.

The advowson, however, belonged to the Sackville family until Richard, the 3rd marquess, sold it. It was the subject of several legal transactions, and in 1639 it was bought by John Coulding of Hill Court in Longdon (Worcs.). In 1676 his son Edward sold it for £100, and later the same year it was bought for £110 by Henry Ashhurst, (fn. 114) and thus became reunited with the manor, the descent of which it followed until Magdalen College in 1948 sold it to the Diocesan Board of Patronage.

Emmington, being such a small parish, has never been rich. In 1254 it was valued at £2, in 1291 at £4 6s. 8d., and in 1535 at £11 os. 2¼d. (fn. 115) By the early 18th century its value was said to be not more than £80. (fn. 116) The income of the rector came from the tithes, which were commuted in 1848 for £196 10s. (fn. 117)

The parish was unusual in having hardly any glebe. None is mentioned in a terrier of 1676, and in the 19th century only an acre of pasture was recorded. (fn. 118)

In the Middle Ages the poverty of the living probably made it a difficult one to fill. In the 13th century two subdeacons were instituted and although Hugh de Chausey (1317–19) was a university graduate, he was a pluralist. Another 14th-century parson, Simon John, left his parish in 1371 to go overseas. (fn. 119) Two graduates held the living in the 15th century, but as both died soon after being instituted they were probably old men when they came to Emmington. (fn. 120) In about 1520 the Rectory was let, and the rector was non-resident. (fn. 121) This was not the case in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when William Whitfield (1585–1605) had nine children and Richard Rastell (1605–38) had thirteen baptized in the church. (fn. 122) The next rector, however, was non-resident, for he was Barton Holiday (1638–c. 1646), Archdeacon of Oxford and a royalist, who was chaplain to Charles I and was sequestered from Emmington. (fn. 123) A later 17th-century rector, John Hammatt (1685–95), earned Anthony Wood's scorn, being described as a 'sniveling non-conforming, conforming vicar,' and the writer of a 'pitiful, canting and silly discourse' for a sermon. (fn. 124)

In the 18th century Sir Henry Ashhurst, a low churchman, instructed his trustees to appoint separate rectors for Emmington and Waterstock, who should preach 'Calvinistical' doctrines. Emmington, however, probably on account of the smallness of the parish, was held with Waterstock from 1726. (fn. 125) Nevertheless, it was not neglected. Although Edward Lewis (rector 1725–85) lived at Waterstock he always conducted the two Sunday services at Emmington and preached the sermon; the catechism was taught at Easter according to the 18th-century custom, but it was said in 1781 that the classes were ill attended, the children being unwilling to come because they were so poorly clothed; from 10 to 22 communicants were recorded at the quarterly administrations of the Sacrament. (fn. 126) If anything happened on a weekday which required the parson's attention, someone had orders to let Lewis know at once. (fn. 127) Towards the end of the century, when he was very old, and in the early 19th century, when one curate served Emmington, Chinnor, and Crowell, the number of communicants dropped and services were less frequent, (fn. 128) but a Sunday school was started in 1820.

During much of the 19th century the rector was Sir William Augustus Musgrave (rector 1827–72), also Rector of Chinnor and a landowner there. Few attended the one service: according to Bishop Wilberforce sometimes only the rector and his clerk were present. (fn. 129) The churchwardens' accounts for 1837 contain the entry: 'No service Sunday after Christmas. Snow blown into the church. Sacrament not administered and wine reserved for Sunday after Easter.' (fn. 130) With the return of a resident rector, Greville Henry Lambert (1872–1908), the son of Sir Henry Lambert, Bt., of Aston House, there was a revival of church life. (fn. 131) He restored the church and rebuilt the Rectory, which had long been unsuitable for a rector's residence and had been let first to the parish clerk and then to a labourer. (fn. 132) In the 20th century the living has usually been held with Chinnor, where the rector lives, and the Rectory has again been let.

The church of ST. NICHOLAS is a small stone building dating mainly from the 19th century. It comprises a chancel, nave, and 14th-century tower. Before they were rebuilt in 1873–4 the have and chancel appear also to have been substantially of the 14th century, (fn. 133) but in the course of demolition the architect found what he believed to be 'relics of Norman masonry worked in the walls', thus suggesting 'that an earlier church stood on the same spot'. (fn. 134) Buckler's drawing of 1822 from the south-east shows that the east window of three lights had early Decorated tracery and that there were two windows of the same date in the south wall of the chancel. The tower of two stages had a steeply pitched saddle-back roof. The nave roof was of a slightly lower level than that of the chancel. (fn. 135) The round font on a moulded circular base appears to date from the 13th century. (fn. 136)

The windows were once filled with stained glass. At the herald's visitation of 1574 Lee recorded sixteen shields in five windows, bearing the arms of Malyns, Sackville, De la Beche, Hampden, and others. (fn. 137) Neither Wood nor Rawlinson has left any description, and the archdeacon's orders of 1759 are the only surviving record of the church in the 18th century. A new reading-desk and pulpit were to be made partly out of the old material, the king's arms were to be painted over the door into the belfry and of a smaller compass, and the Creed, Lord's Prayer, Commandments, and texts were also to be painted. (fn. 138)

Repairs to the church and chancel were carried out in 1802–3 and 1841, but their state in 1852 was nevertheless described as 'very dilapidated'. (fn. 139)

In 1873–4 the church was rebuilt on the old foundation except for the north wall of the nave and the exterior of the tower. It has an open timber roof and tiled floor. The architect of the chancel was Charles Buckeridge of Oxford and London and the builder was Giles Holland of Thame. (fn. 140) The cost, including that of the interior fittings, was £952. Herbert Wykeham of Tythrop House bore the cost of rebuilding the nave and the rector mainly paid for the chancel. The new woodwork to the interior of the tower and the rehanging of the bells was paid for by the three farmers of the parish, all of the North family. (fn. 141) When completed the church seated 120, as it had done before its restoration. It is still (1958) lit by lamps and candles.

The armorial glass had evidently been removed before Parker's visit in about 1850, and no other ancient monuments or church fittings remain. A carved reredos of the Ascension in memory of the Revd. Greville H. Lambert was dedicated in 1908. There are memorial tablets to Thomas D. Crowdy, who died in the First World War, and to the Revd. Leonard Baldwyn (d. 1935). An oak reading-desk was installed as a memorial to four parishioners who died in the First World War.

In 1553 the only church plate was a chalice without a cover. In 1958 there were a silver chalice, without a paten cover, of 1575, and a silver paten of 1873. (fn. 142) In 1553 there were three bells and in 1958 there were still three bells: the second of about 1550 by one of the Appowells of Buckingham, the tenor of 1584, and the treble of 1664. There was also a sanctus bell of 1723. (fn. 143)

The registers date from 1539, but there is a gap between about 1640 and 1715. (fn. 144) There are churchwardens' accounts for 1818–70 and 1874.


The only Roman Catholic ever recorded in the parish was Isabel Franklin, the wife of Henry Franklin, in 1641. (fn. 145)

As Sir Henry Ashhurst in the 18th century wished to have a 'Calvinistical' rector it is possible that the presentation of low-church rectors prevented the growth of nonconformity in the parish. There is no record of any Protestant nonconformist until 1759, when one servant was returned as an Anabaptist. (fn. 146) In 1781 the rector reported that a family of Anabaptists was newly come into the parish; in 1801 the numbers of Anabaptists were given as two or three and in 1808 there were four but no teacher. (fn. 147) In 1834 there was one dissenting family. (fn. 148) In 1840 the house of William Wade was licensed as a meeting-house, (fn. 149) but it did not long survive, although dissent became stronger. In 1854 the rector belived dissent to be the cause of his small congregations, and in 1866 he estimated that there were 80 dissenters, who went to the chapels at Sydenham or Chinnor. (fn. 150)


In 1778 the rector reported that the people were 'very ignorant', and in 1781 that few children in the parish could read and that they were so ill clothed that they were unwilling to come to be catechized. (fn. 151) No kind of education existed for the village children until 1820 when a Sunday school was started. In 1833 the rector and P.T.H. Wykeham, the lord of the manor, supported it and there were 26 boys and girls. (fn. 152) This was still flourishing in 1834 and in 1854, when there were 28 children. (fn. 153) There is no record of any day-school. The children went to Chinnor school in 1871 and to Sydenham in 1878. (fn. 154) They still attended Sydenham school in 1920, (fn. 155) but were later transferred to Chinnor where they attended in 1956. (fn. 156)


By 1676 the church owned 3 'lands', known as Church Lands, in Chinnor common field. (fn. 157) These had been given at a time and by a person unknown for the repair of the church and during the 18th century they were let for £1 a year. (fn. 158) This is the charity which was reported upon in about 1822 by the Charity Commissioners, who found that a rent of the same value, arising from two 'lands' in 'the open field', was being applied to the relief of the poor. This land, the commissioners were told, had been given by an old woman to buy Communion wine, but as the cost of the wine exceeded the income from the land the rent was paid into the general parish account, and the cost of the wine like other church expenses was met out of the poor rate. (fn. 159) In 1931 Emmington Church land was let for £3. (fn. 160) No later information about the charity has been discovered.


  • 1. The parish is on O.S. Map 6", xli, xlii (1877); 2½", 42/70 (1949).
  • 2. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1939).
  • 3. V.C.H. Oxon. i, Geological Map.
  • 4. d.d. Ashhurst a 1(R); Davis, Oxon. Map.
  • 5. See below, p. 94.
  • 6. O.S. Map 25", xli. 12 (1880).
  • 7. e.g. deed of 1447 cited in Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, p. 177.
  • 8. C 133/8/7; C 134/48/10.
  • 9. Cal. Close, 1429–35, 235. The arms of Malyns were once in the painted glass in Emmington church.
  • 10. See below, p. 93.
  • 11. d.d. Ashhurst a I(R).
  • 12. Ibid.; Hearth Tax Oxon. 30.
  • 13. d.d. Ashhurst a I(R).
  • 14. Oxf. Dioc. c 1805, Mortgage and plans of 1874.
  • 15. Account of Benefices, H.L. (1818), xviii; Gardner, Dir. Oxon.
  • 16. O.R.O. Misc. Har. II/6 (1688); ibid. 12 (1703).
  • 17. Secker's Visit.; Oxf. Dioc. d 555.
  • 18. It is recorded in the Bodl. Tithe award of 1841.
  • 19. We are indebted to Mr. J. Grassi for help with this section.
  • 20. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 411.
  • 21. Pipe R. 1199 (P.R.S. N.S. x), 204; Bk. of Fees, 447, 557; Farrer, Honors, i. 210–13.
  • 22. Bk. of Fees, 842, 828.
  • 23. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 43, 784; Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 395; Feud. Aids, iv. 171.
  • 24. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 70.
  • 25. See above, p. 4.
  • 26. Cal. Close, 1392–6, 206.
  • 27. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, p. 177; C 142/340/188.
  • 28. d.d. Ewelme honor 2/1/11, &c.
  • 29. Farrer, Honors, i. 211. For this family and its extensive holdings see ibid. 210–13; C. J. Phillips, History of Sackville Family; J. H. Round, 'The Essex Sackvilles', Archaeological Jnl. lxiv. 217–26.
  • 30. Colchester Cartulary, i (Roxburghe Club, 124), 133.
  • 31. Pipe R. 1199 (P.R.S. N.S.X), 204; 1202 (ibid. xv), 197; 1203 (ibid. xvi), 169.
  • 32. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 177; see also Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 866.
  • 33. Red Bk. Exch. 585.
  • 34. Farrer, Honors, i. 212.
  • 35. Pat. R. 1225–32, 362.
  • 36. Close R. 1231–4, 193.
  • 37. Bk. of Fees, 447, 557.
  • 38. Ibid. 828, 835, 1394.
  • 39. Colchester Cart. i. 129.
  • 40. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 43.
  • 41. Farrer, Honors, i. 212.
  • 42. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, pp. 69–70; Rot. Hund. ii. 784. For Jordan, Andrew (I), and Andrew (II) see Knights of Ed. I, iv (Harl. Soc. lxxxiii), 198–200.
  • 43. Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 417; Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, p. 501.
  • 44. Phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 74; Cal. Chart. R. 1300–26, 44.
  • 45. Feud. Aids, iv. 171.
  • 46. Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 395.
  • 47. Cal. Close, 1313–18, 350; Cal. Pat. 1313–17, 511, 514. For him see above, p. 58.
  • 48. Cal. Fine R. 1327–37, 29.
  • 49. Cal. Pat. 1345–8, 529.
  • 50. C 136/75/20. For her see Phillips, Sackville Fam. 1. 83–87; Cal. Inq. p.m. viii, p. 415.
  • 51. Cal. Inq. p.m. xiii, p. 44. Emmington is not mentioned.
  • 52. For De la Poles see H. A. Napier, Hist. Notices of Swyncombe and Ewelme, 291. His first wife had been Elizabeth, the sister of Edmund Hadlow: V.C.H. Oxon. v. 253.
  • 53. Cal. Close, 1392–6, 206; C. 136/75/20.
  • 54. For him see phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 92–98.
  • 55. C 136/75/20.
  • 56. Linc. Reg. xiv, Repingdon, ff. 383d, 400.
  • 57. Cal. Close, 1429–35, 235, for the complicated provisions. In 1428 William Sackville was said to hold the manor, but this was probably an error: Feud. Aids, iv. 192.
  • 58. For his will see Phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 98.
  • 59. C 139/141/10.
  • 60. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, p. 177.
  • 61. Farrer, Honors, i. 210–11; for Fawley see V.C.H. Bucks. iii. 39.
  • 62. Genealogist, N.S. xvii. 251.
  • 63. See below, p. 95.
  • 64. Genealogist, N.S. xx. 28.
  • 65. Cal. Close, 1485–1500, 124.
  • 66. For suit of his sister Elizabeth for 300 marks dowry from Emmington. see C 1/163/6.
  • 67. Phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 112.
  • 68. Ibid. 121.
  • 69. For him see D.N.B.; for her see Complete Peerage, xii (2), 764.
  • 70. d.d. Ashhurst c 4, abstract of title; C.P. 25(2)/197/Trin. 19 Eliz. For Dorset see Complete Peerage, iv. 422–3. For descent of £30, until it was extinguished in 1639, see d.d. Ashhurst c 4, abstract of title to advowson and £30; C.P. 25(2)/340/East. 13 Jas. I.
  • 71. d.d. Ashhurst c 4, abstract; C.P. 25(2)/197/Trin. 28 Eliz. For Peckhams see V.C.H. Bucks. iii. 258.
  • 72. Griffith (d. 1591) and William Hampden (d. 1597) called him cousin: R. E. C. Waters, Memoirs of Chester of Chicheley, i. 90, 91*.
  • 73. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 293.
  • 74. C 142/340/188. Remainders were to William Hampden's son John and his heirs, then to his brother Sir Edmund Hampden and his heirs. His sisters were Margaret Hollinshead, Elizabeth Cureton, and Andria Fryer.
  • 75. Wills from Doctors Commons (Cam. Soc. lxxxiii), 100, 104; cf. Visit. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lxxviii), 71, where Richard of Emmington is said to be John Hampden's brother.
  • 76. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii, 293.
  • 77. d.d. Ashhurst c 4: abstract of title, for transactions about Emmington in 1630s and 1640s.
  • 78. Ibid.; C.P. 25(2)/707/Trin. 17 Chas. II; see also 710/ Mich. 33 Chas. II.
  • 79. See V.C.H. Oxon. vii. 223.
  • 80. O.R.O. Land tax assess.
  • 81. See V.C.H. Oxon. vii. 177.
  • 82. Lee, Thame, 440; for family see ibid. 437; and Burke, Land. Gent.
  • 83. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 337.
  • 84. P.N. Oxon. (E.P.N.S.), i. 107.
  • 85. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 411, 397–8; for hidage see above, p. 84.
  • 86. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 43.
  • 87. C 133/8/7.
  • 88. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 784.
  • 89. C 134/48/10. In 1316 the tenants were said to work 3 days between Michaelmas and Lammas, perhaps a more accurate description than in 1279.
  • 90. E 179/161/8, 9, 10, 17.
  • 91. The names of 10 Emmington tenants who witnessed a release in 1482 are known: Cal. Close, 1485–1500, 435.
  • 92. E 179/161/198, 341.
  • 93. Hearth Tax Oxon. 236; Compton Census; d.d. Ashhurst a 1 (R).
  • 94. d.d. Ashhurst a 1 (R). This map bears no owner's or draughtsman's name and was not found among the Ashhurst papers, but it was presumably made for Sir Henry Ashhurst. The ct. roll setting out the 1817 Chinnor manor bounds spoke of Emmington inclosures along their common boundary; d.d. Wykeham-Musgrave c 36.
  • 95. d.d. Ewelme honor I/3/13.
  • 96. Oxf. Dioc. d 555.
  • 97. Young, Oxon. Agric. 55.
  • 98. Abridgment of Abstract re Poor, H.C. 82, p. 357 (1818), xix.
  • 99. O.R.O. Land tax assess.; and see above, p.93.
  • 100. Bodl. Tithe award; cf. O.S. Map 6", xli, xlii (1881).
  • 101. d.d. Bullingdon c 21, c99: rate bks.
  • 102. d.d. Hobbs c 3, leases. As late as 1885 tenants were bound, if required, to do 2 days' hauling with a wagon and 4 horses from Thame station to Tythrop House.
  • 103. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1864, 1901); H.O. 107/1726/2.
  • 104. V.C.H. Oxon. ii. 220; Census, 1931.
  • 105. Census, 1951: Eccl. Areas.
  • 106. Thame Cart. i. 94; Rot. Welles, ii. 14.
  • 107. For medieval presentations see MS. Top. Oxon. d 460.
  • 108. Genealogist, N.S. xx. 28; see above, p. 93.
  • 109. For him see C. J. Phillips, Hist. of Sackville Family, i. 114.
  • 110. For descent of the advowson until 1676 see d.d. Ashhurst c 4, abstracts of title to advowson and to advowson and £30.
  • 111. Dunkin MS. 438/2, ff. 279, 279b, citing Cant. Reg.
  • 112. As n. II above.
  • 113. Oxf. Dioc. c 70, nos. 9, 10.
  • 114. As n. II above; C.P. 43/227/12; ibid. 376/160; C.P. 25(2)/709/Mich. 28 Chas.II; d.d. Ashhurst d. 14,1676 conveyances.
  • 115. Lunt, Val. Norw. 305; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 30; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 169.
  • 116. Oxf. Dioc. c 155, f. 54 a.
  • 117. Bodl. Tithe award.
  • 118. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 141, p. 205; Oxf. Dioc. c 448, f. 57; Bodl. Tithe award.
  • 119. Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 88.
  • 120. For list of medieval rectors see MS. Top. Oxon. d 460.
  • 121. Visit. Dioc. Linc. 1517–31, i. 119.
  • 122. Par. Rec. Reg.
  • 123. Walker Rev. 297; for him see D.N.B.
  • 124. Wood, Fasti, ii. 366.
  • 125. See V.C.H. Oxon. viii. 226.
  • 126. Secker's Visit.; Oxf. Dioc. d 555, d 558; c 327, p. 10.
  • 127. Oxf. Dioc. d 561.
  • 128. Ibid. c. 327, pp. 10, 209; d 570.
  • 129. Ibid. b 39; Wilb. Visit.; Oxf. Dioc. d 178. For Musgrave see G.E.C. Baronetage, ii. 436.
  • 130. Par. Rec. Chwdns' accts.
  • 131. Foster, Alumni; for family see G.E.C. Baronetage v. 11; Oxf. Dioc. c 344.
  • 132. See above, p. 91.
  • 133. Parker, Eccles. Top.
  • 134. Note in Par. Reg. about the architect's views.
  • 135. MS. Top. Oxon. a 66, no. 236.
  • 136. Ibid. no. 235.
  • 137. Oxon. Visit. 113; and see above, p.92. The Sackvilles had been lords of the manor since the 12th cent, and had intermarried with these and the Hampden families.
  • 138. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. d 13, f.60.
  • 139. Ibid. c 67, ff. 71–72; c 38, f. 162; Gardner, Dir. Oxon. The churchyard was not railed in 1633, and although evidently fenced later, the fencing was out of repair in 1799 and 1818–19: MS. Top. Oxon. c 55, f. 280; Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 67, ff. 68, 97.
  • 140. Par. Rec, Reg. note.
  • 141. Ibid.
  • 142. Chant. Cert. 122; Evans, Ch. Plate.
  • 143. Ch. Bells Oxon. ii. 127.
  • 144. There is a transcript down to 1812 in MS. Top. Oxon. d 290.
  • 145. E 179/164/483.
  • 146. Oxf. Dioc. d 555.
  • 147. Ibid. c 327, pp. 10, 209; d 570.
  • 148. Ibid. b 39.
  • 149. Ibid. c 646, f. 119.
  • 150. Wilb. Visit.; Oxf. Dioc. c 332.
  • 151. Oxf. Dioc. c 327, p. 10.
  • 152. Educ. of Poor, 723; cf. Oxf. Dioc. d 707, d 572.
  • 153. Oxf. Dioc. b 39; Wilb. Visit.
  • 154. Elem. Educ. Ret. 320; Oxf. Dioc. c 344.
  • 155. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1887, 1920).
  • 156. Ex inf. Oxon. Educ. Cttee.
  • 157. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 141, p. 205.
  • 158. Oxf. Dioc. d 555.
  • 159. 8th Rep. Com. Char. 533, which does not specify which open fields, but there can be little doubt that Chinnor was meant.
  • 160. Char. Com. file 114075.