A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 9, Bloxham Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Wigginton lies half way between Banbury and Chipping Norton, on the River Swere. It covers 1,187 a. and is roughly triangular in shape with the river forming one side of the triangle. (fn. 1) The dominant features in the north are the sandy Wigginton Heath and Rye Hill where the land rises to 600 feet. Most of the parish lies between the 500 and 600 feet contour and in the Upper Lias area. (fn. 2)
The modern road from Hook Norton to Milcombe passes through the parish; it is connected with South Newington and Swalcliffe by minor roads. A cross track, which may be of great antiquity, joins the village to the Romano-British road through Tadmarton Camp, (fn. 3) and another ancient track runs from Stow to Banbury across Wigginton Heath— the 'great road' as it was called locally in the 18th century. (fn. 4) The line of at least one road has probably been changed: immediately after crossing the brook to the south of the village on the Swerford road what appears to be the pre-inclosure road can be seen ascending the hill to the left. (fn. 5) The BanburyChipping Norton railway, built in 1887 and closed in 1964, (fn. 6) crosses the parish north of the village.
The village took its present name from a Saxon lord, Wicga, who may have held extensive property in the neighbourhood, for there was a Wicga's tumulus in Hook Norton. (fn. 7) The rich red soil and the River Swere had already attracted RomanoBritish settlers. The site of a Roman villa of some size and wealth, and possibly a military post, lies north-east of the church. It was excavated in 1824 by the curate and Joseph Skelton, who described it in his Antiquities. (fn. 8) In 1965 further excavations were carried out. Air photographs show the outlines of small fields of the Iron-age or Roman period on Wigginton Heath near the cross roads. (fn. 9)
Wigginton has always had a small population; in the late 14th century it seems to have had no more inhabitants than Milcombe, a hamlet of Bloxham. (fn. 10) The Protestation Returns of 1641 were signed by 41 men of 18 and over, and the 112 adults of 14 and over listed by the Compton Census in 1676 may indicate an increase in population, (fn. 11) which took place in this period in other villages in the hundred. In 1738 and 1768 the incumbent reported that there were about 40 houses, inhabited by farmers and labourers. (fn. 12) The population increased rapidly in the early 19th century, rising from 192 in 1801 to 291 in 1821; there were then 66 families living in 55 houses. Since the peak year of 1861, when there were 338 inhabitants, there has been a decline to 211 in 1901, and to 159 in 1961. (fn. 13) Some of the inhabitants, at least in the 19th century, lived outside the village, in cottages at South Fields, Withycombe on the Heath, and at the mill-house. (fn. 14) Wigginton's isolated position and lack of any special industry has prevented it from developing: it has one person to every 5 acres. Bodicote with about the same amount of land was nearly ten times more thickly populated in 1965.
The village is sited at a height of 400 ft. on the hill above the Swere valley, just off the road from Swerford to Swalcliffe. (fn. 15) The original plan of the village has been obscured by later changes, but it seems once to have centred more upon the church. (fn. 16) Today scattered dwellings, houses, and orchards, lie mainly along the four sides of an irregular square, being mostly concentrated on the west side where the two public houses are. The church now stands rather isolated on the east side, but in the 19th century there were cottages on the north and west side and the village street from Mill Lane wound in a 'miserably circuitous' way between them, crossing what is now the north part of the churchyard, and behind the parish pound inclosure. Some of these dilapidated cottages were bought by J. R. Cobb in 1867, were ceded to the church to extend the churchyard in exchange for the parish pound, the inclosure of which may still be seen, and were demolished. (fn. 17) The well now by the road-side was once in a cottage garden. One of the cottages to the north of the church still stands and as late as c. 1920 was used as a blacksmith's shop. When the cottages were pulled down the village street was realigned along the line of the present garden wall of the rectory-house. Many of Wigginton's 2-storied cottages and farm-houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries, though they have been remodelled and enlarged at later periods. With the exception of a few 19th-century and modern brick buildings all are of the local ironstone, quarried round the village. Until recently thatch for roofing was general but Stonesfield slate was occasionally used. As late as 1907 there were 2 thatchers living in the village. (fn. 18)
Of the 13 houses taxed in 1665 10 were modest farm dwellings with 2 hearths apiece, and of the 3 larger houses one was the old rectory-house and one the manor-house. (fn. 19) The last can perhaps be identified with the present Manor Farm. John Blount was assessed on 5 hearths for it in 1665 and when George Blount died in 1700 his house was described as having a hall, parlour, and kitchen on the ground floor as well as an out-kitchen and buttery. There were chambers over the parlour and hall and two others, a 'best' and a 'middle' chamber. There was a closet and a 'garret'. (fn. 20) The present house is Lshaped and has been much enlarged. The rectoryhouse, also taxed on 5 hearths, was pulled down in 1844 and replaced by the present house, designed by the architect John Prichard of Oxford in the Tudor style. (fn. 21) The old house was nearer the church than the present one which was built on the site of a glebe farm-house, which it in part incorporates.
Another 17th-century house, 'Woodheys', inscribed 'W 1695' belonged to the Wyatts, a wellknown local family of farmers and masons. It was still a farm-house in 1813. The present representative of the family inhabits a cottage that his family acquired in 1704. (fn. 22) The most striking of the 18thcentury additions to the village was the 'Dolphin'. (fn. 23) It was built as a farm-house by James Eden, the principal farmer in the parish in the 1720s, and bears the inscription 'I:E. 1727'. Its facade of ironstone ashlar with keystoned windows is dignified by a shell hood over the doorway. The house is set off by the smaller houses in the street, all built in the regional style, and by the grass verges that edge it. On these verges stalls used to be erected in the late 19th century on St. Giles's Day, when the village held its wake. At the approach to the village from Tadmarton is the 'Swan' public house. It was first mentioned by name when licensed in 1782, (fn. 24) but it is an older house dating probably from the 17th century. It consists of one story and an attic and is T-shaped in plan. In the 19th century there were 3 inns in the village. (fn. 25)
'Town houses' were built for the poor in 1777 and 1811. (fn. 26) The latter have been identified with a house (originally 3 tenements) at the extreme southwest corner of the village. The building called the 'Court' may originally have been the 'church house' (fn. 27) which was later used for the leet courts. The rear parts date from the 17th century, though the main structure was rebuilt in the 19th century as four tenements. The central gable has 'G. W. 1830' inscribed on it and over the two doorways below is the text 'Unless the Lord is with us we build in vain' in Latin. The architectural details are in a traditional Tudor style. The mason employed was Robert Cleaver, (fn. 28) a member of the family after whom Cleaver's Lane is named. Being in a dilapidated state, they were bought from the R.D.C. in 1963 and converted into one house. (fn. 29) Other 19thcentury buildings in the village are the Baptist chapel (1835), the adjacent church school, built in 1832 and enlarged in 1859, and the Wesleyan Methodist chapel (1883). (fn. 30) Outside the village on the Swere is the 19th-century mill-house, and the adjoining mill, built by William Gilkes and inscribed 'W. G. 1823'. Both have been slated with Welsh slate, a comparatively rare material at Wigginton. The 19th-century 'Lodge' at Wigginton cross-roads once stood at the corner of a wood. Many of the fine trees in the wood have recently been cleared to make way for sand pits.
Apart from its rectors, one of whom signed a protest in 1649 against the execution of Charles I, (fn. 31) Wigginton has had no known inhabitants of any repute outside the village. Certain farming families, such as those of Hall, Stanbra, and Coles, and the Cleavers, who were masons, have long dominated village life. At one period in the 19th century a Stanbra had the 'White Swan' and another the mill. (fn. 32)
In King Edward's time Levric held 10 hides in Wigginton and in 1086 this estate was held by Guy d'Oilly, a younger brother of Robert d'Oilly, Constable of Oxford Castle and lord of the neighbouring manor and barony of Hook Norton. (fn. 33) Guy d'Oilly's estate evidently came into the hands of the main branch of the d'Oilly family, the descendants of another brother Niel, who succeeded to Robert d'Oilly's barony of Hook Norton. (fn. 34) In later centuries Wigginton was attached to this lordship and held as part of 3 fees with Ardley, South Weston, and Wheatfield, all places held in 1086 by Robert d'Oilly. (fn. 35) The overlordship remained with the d'Oilly family for over a century, and then passed to Thomas, Earl of Warwick (d. 1242). (fn. 36) In 1242 Wigginton was held for a ½ fee of Thomas's sister and heir Margaret, Countess of Warwick. (fn. 37) Her husband John de Plescy (d. 1263), styled Earl of Warwick, succeeded in retaining after his wife's death some of the d'Oilly lands, among them Wigginton, which was retained by the Plescys until the late 14th century and followed the descent of Ardley and Bucknell. (fn. 38) Philip de la Vache successfully claimed overlordship of Wigginton, as held of his manor of Hook Norton, as late as 1391. (fn. 39) No further record of the overlordship has been found.
No mention occurs of the mesne tenancy of Wigginton in the 12th century, but since the manor was later held by the Fitzwyths it is probable that it followed the descent of Ardley and South Weston and was held by Roger son of Ralph, a nephew of Niel d'Oilly and an ancestor of the Fitzwyths. (fn. 40) He was followed at Ardley, and no doubt at Wigginton also, by his son Ralph (d. by 1201) and grandson Robert (d. by 1218). (fn. 41) In 1227 Ralph son of Robert was in possession of the advowson of Wigginton church and probably of the manor. His brother Guy who presented to the church in 1231, may have been already in possession of the manor, as he certainly was in 1242 when he was returned as holding a ½ fee. (fn. 42) Guy was dead by 1268 when his relict Iseult seems to have had dower in Wigginton. (fn. 43) Their son John was called 'of Wigginton' at the end of the century, and had been succeeded there by his son Robert Fitzwyth by 1306. (fn. 44) Both Robert and his son Guy died in 1316, and Elizabeth, Robert's relict, was said to be lady of the vill; when Wigginton was assessed for tax in that year she paid the highest assessment. (fn. 45) Guy's heir was his infant daughter Elizabeth, but the Fitzwyth estate at Wigginton, as at Ardley and South Weston, passed into the hands of a collateral branch, the Fitzwyths of Shotteswell (Warws.). (fn. 46) John Fitzwyth doubtless acquired the manor on Elizabeth's death and in 1342 his son Robert was probably in possession of the manor as he was of the advowson. Robert was returned as tenant of the ½ fee in 1346. (fn. 47) After the murder of Robert's nephew and successor Robert Fitzwyth in 1362 his relict Joan had dower in Wigginton manor, but released her rights in 1370 to Sir John de Beauchamp of Holt (Worcs.), later created Lord de Beauchamp, Baron of Kidderminster. Beauchamp had married Joan, daughter and heir of Robert Fitzwyth and his first wife, and thus he acquired her father's inheritance. (fn. 48) Wigginton followed the same descent as Ardley after Lord de Beauchamp's attainder in 1388, and on the death of his son John de Beauchamp in 1420 passed to John's daughter Margaret, relict of John Pauncefoot. Margaret may have leased the manor, as she did the advowson, for in 1428 Joan, relict of John Blount, was said to hold the Fitzwyth lands and the ½ fee. (fn. 49) By 1472, however, Wigginton manor was held by the three daughters of Margaret Beauchamp, Alice, Joan, and Elizabeth, and their husbands. (fn. 50) As at Ardley Elizabeth's third of Wigginton was divided on her death without issue between her two surviving sisters. In 1501 Joan and her husband John Croft were recorded as holding half the manor, (fn. 51) and Alice and her husband, John Guise, must have held the other half for it descended to their son John Guise. In 1518 he acquired the Croft portion and in 1539 sold the whole manor to the king, who seven years later granted it to Sir Thomas Pope of Wroxton. (fn. 52) The Blount family, however, appears to have been the lessee throughout this period and later. (fn. 53)
Sir Thomas Pope (d. 1559) had also acquired the neighbouring estates of Hook Norton and Tadmarton and, on the other side of the county, Ardley, whose descent Wigginton continued to follow. (fn. 54) In 1559 John Pope (d. 1584), his brother and heir, became the absentee lord of Wigginton and was succeeded by a nephew, Edmund Hochens (d. 1602). (fn. 55) The estates then reverted to John Pope's son William, created Earl of Downe in 1628, and on his death in 1631 passed, with the exception of Wroxton, to his grandson and heir Thomas Pope, Earl of Downe (d. 1660), then a minor. (fn. 56) As a royalist he had his north Oxfordshire estates sequestered in 1650 and let to various tenants. (fn. 57) After his death Wigginton's connexion with Ardley was broken, for his uncle and heir Thomas Pope, Earl of Downe (d. 1668), granted Wigginton and neighbouring estates to Ambrose Holbech (d. 1662) of Mollington, a noted lawyer. (fn. 58) Holbech's son Ambrose (d. 1701) was still in possession in 1670, but evidently sold the property to Richard Brideoake of Ledwell (in Wootton), son of Ralph Brideoake, Bishop of Chichester. (fn. 59) Brideoake held some of the Holbech estates by 1691 and was mentioned as lord of lands in Wigginton in 1694, by which time he presumably held the manor. (fn. 60) He obtained an Act of Parliament to sell part of his estate, including land in Wigginton, in 1710, (fn. 61) but apparently did not include the manor, for his son Richard (II), who had inherited the property by 1712, still held the manor at his death in 1715, and either a younger brother or a son, Ralph Brideoake, lord of Hook Norton and Swerford, was lord in 1718. (fn. 62) A Mr. Rowney, probably Thomas Rowney, M.P. (d. 1727), the Oxford attorney and a considerable landowner in the county, who already held the advowson, was named as joint lord. (fn. 63) Brideoake died in 1728. (fn. 64) The immediate descent of the manor has not been established, (fn. 65) but it must have been sold at some date before 1759 to the Argyll family for in that year Jane, Duchess of Argyll and Greenwich, was holding the leet court. It passed with her Adderbury property to Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, who held courts in the period 1770–93. (fn. 66) In 1795 William Walford had the manorial rights and was recorded as lord up to 1812. (fn. 67) By 1817 the manor had passed into the hands of Sophia Elizabeth Wykeham, Baroness Wenman of Thame Park, who was still lady in 1852. In 1854, however, it was held by R. S. Bolton Davis of Swerford Park, (fn. 68) the successor of the Brideoake family there. He was still lord in 1891; there is no later record of manorial rights, although Lady King who succeeded him at Swerford Park was returned as one of the chief landowners in Wigginton as late as 1920. (fn. 69)
The manorial court survived at least until 1825, although, after inclosure in 1796, its activities were limited. The constable, hayward, and thirdborough were chosen and sworn there, and breaches of manorial custom punished. The court regulated open-field farming and dealt with minor offences such as having an unauthorized garden or a dunghill in the street. (fn. 70)
From the 16th century the vestry was responsible for most local government; for Wigginton the surviving records are exceptionally complete. (fn. 71) Its officers, the constable, 2 churchwardens, 2 overseers of the poor, and 2 surveyors of the highways, were elected yearly.
The constable looked after the parish stocks and whipping-post, (fn. 72) the parish pound, the well, and the fences between Wigginton fields and neighbouring parishes. He paid the parish crow- and molecatchers and hired a bull for the use of the town. He was responsible for the relief of the travelling poor; in 1694–5, for example, 336 persons received relief as they passed through Wigginton. The organization of the militia was also the constable's responsibility; usually militia men were chosen by lot but in 1780 the constable seized on 'an idle fellow for a soldier' and had to satisfy the justice in Banbury. The constable performed the usual duties of collecting national and local taxes, which he paid over at the Reindeer Inn in Banbury.
The surveyor of the highways relied largely on casual labour; in the 1790s labourers were paid 1s. a day and annual expenditure was between £1and £3. Most of this was spent on the Banbury-Stow road. Work done on the bridges was carried out by the Cleaver family of stonemasons.
In the first 60 years of the 18th century the cost of poor relief was comparatively small: in 1720 it was just over £3, and in 1770 it was £45. During this period few people received direct money payments; when they did so it was usually 1s. for a woman and 2s. for old men (presumably with their wives). The able-bodied poor were set to work on the roads, or bird-scaring, cow-keeping, stone-breaking, ditching, and picking up stones from the fallow. Women were employed making clothes for the aged poor. Occasional relief was given in kind, for instance in clothes, food, and coal. The overseers paid medical bills for the sick poor; in the 1820s they subscribed £2 12s. 6d. a year to the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, to secure admission for Wigginton paupers. (fn. 73) If a patient died, they paid for the burial and tried to recoup themselves by selling the patient's effects. The overseers spent much time dealing with settlement problems (fn. 74) and with bastards and orphans; the care taken over the education of such children is shown by the terms on which 3 children were apprenticed in 1796 to a Hook Norton tailor, an agreement requiring a premium of £10. (fn. 75)
The impact of the Napoleonic wars led to a steep rise in the cost of poor relief. The year of inclosure the overseers spent £130 and in 1800 £237. After a fall to £150 in 1802–3 expenditure rose steadily. (fn. 76) In 1819 it reached £650, raised by a rate of 10s. in the £. It is clear that the overseers tried new methods in the face of growing expenditure. They began to build houses for the poor, the earliest in 1777 and 3 more in 1811. A workhouse was set up in 1785, and it was agreed to farm the poor to Thomas Wilkes, a wool-comber, who also seems to have been a publican in the village. He was paid £67 5s. a year, for which sum he agreed to clothe, feed, and care for the inmates. Food included 3 hot meals a week, as laid down by the workhouse rules. In return Wilkes had the labour of his charges free. In 1790 the overseers took a more constructive step. They tried to develop the sandpits on Wigginton Heath, in order to make money to ease the rates. Handbills advertising the sand were printed for distribution in Banbury market, and the Banbury town crier was paid 6d. for crying Wigginton sand there on market days.
Wigginton's population increased by a third between 1811 and 1821, and the returning officer attributed this to the 'frequent and early marriages of the labouring poor: to which the plan of relieving them by head money according to the number of their respective families no doubt operated as a very great inducement'. (fn. 77) After the wars the overseers had adopted the roundsman system. By 1822 the situation was so bad that they cut the rate of outdoor relief by as much as a third in some cases. Their accounts end in 1826. Their expenditure in 1834–5 was still high; it amounted to £319. The following year, after the parish became part of the Banbury Union, only £168 was spent. (fn. 78) In 1851–2 only £105 was spent on relief at 1s. 4½d. in the £ on rateable value. (fn. 79)
On the eve of the Conquest Wigginton was assessed at 10 hides, a round figure suggesting that it was a well-established vill. (fn. 80) In 1086 there was land for 6 ploughs, although in fact there were said to be 3 ploughs on Guy d'Oilly's demesne farm and 5 in the hands of his tenants. The significance of this excess of ploughs, which was paralleled in the neighbouring parish of Hook Norton, is not clear, but it may have been related to the fact that Wigginton, like Hook Norton, lay in the path of marauding armies of the 10th and 11th centuries. (fn. 81) There is no indication that the village suffered at the Conquest, for the valuation of the estate both in 1066 and 1086 was £5. The other assets of the parish were a mill, rendering 8s., and 16 a. of meadow. Of the 20 recorded peasants 9 were villani, 5 were bordars, and 6 were serfs attached to the demesne. The serfs presumably manned the 3 ploughs in accordance with the medieval custom of 2 men to a plough. Another tenant of the lord was a knight (miles), an unusual entry in the Oxfordshire Domesday. (fn. 82)
There seems to have been a considerable demesne estate belonging to the Fitzwyth manor, although nothing is known of its history. The lord was assessed at more than six times as much as the next highest contributor for the thirtieth of 1306, and at nearly 3 times as much in 1327. (fn. 83) There were no other tax-payers of substance. The highest number of contributors to these taxes was 24, and in 1316, when 21 contributed, the tenants' share of the tax was fairly evenly distributed, 9 paying between 2s. and 2s. 6d. and 11 between 1s. and 1s. 6d. (fn. 84) The contribution of the village was standardized at £2 15s. 8d. in 1334, only a moderate sum in comparison with other parishes of the same size in the hundred. (fn. 85) To the poll tax of 1377 73 adults were assessed. (fn. 86)
By Henry VIII's reign, in the absence of a resident lord, some farmers had risen to prominence and moderate prosperity. For the subsidy of 1523 there were 17 contributors of which most can be identified as yeomen and husbandmen. The almost landless labourer, paying the lowest sum of 4d., who was a common feature of many parishes, had only a single representative at Wigginton. (fn. 87) By 1577 the 3 chief farmers were George Blount, Humphrey Hall, and Richard Croft. (fn. 88) They were members of families already well-established in the parish and prominent in the following century as well. The Blount family apparently farmed the land of the manor as early as 1428, when Joan, relict of John Blount, held it; (fn. 89) in 1523 George Blount paid the second highest contribution (8s.) in the parish; and another George Blount (d. 1604) was among the 7 contributors listed in 1577. (fn. 90) The property of the Blount family in the 17th century included at least 4 yardlands and by the middle of the century one of the family, John Blount, had risen into the ranks of the gentry. (fn. 91) He was probably the John Blount who paid tax on a comparatively large farm-house (5 hearths) in 1665; at his death his personalty was valued at £90. (fn. 92) The Hall family likewise flourished in the 16th century, and they continued to farm in the parish up to the mid-19th century. (fn. 93) For the subsidy of 1577 Humphrey Hall paid on £5 worth of goods, (fn. 94) and William Hall (d. 1683), who left 2 yardlands in his will, had moveable goods valued at £70. (fn. 95) Other members of the family, at their deaths, had goods valued at £45, £54, and £115, and Richard Hall (d. 1766) had goods worth £867, £620 of which was owing to him on debts and mortgages. (fn. 96) The Croft family also prospered: when John Croft died in 1666 he had £61 out on bond and debts and was worth in all £84; while Thomas Croft (d. 1667) had goods worth £320, of which a half was in farm equipment, stock, and grain. (fn. 97) Other Wigginton farmers were comparatively wealthy in the late 17th century: in 1677, for instance, Richard Calcott's goods were valued at £206, in 1695 Richard Humfreys's to £170, and in 1700 Thomas Giles's to £178. (fn. 98)
On the other hand hearth tax returns give the impression that the village as a whole was comparatively poor. Although 22 house-holders had been listed in 1662, only 9 farmers were assessed in 1665 and 3 were discharged on account of poverty. Only the Blount family and one other farmer had largish farm-houses. (fn. 99)
The structure of the village remained almost unchanged until the inclosure of the common fields in 1796. Nearly all the inhabitants at that date had a stake in the land and there were some 24 landholders, including the rector. There was, however, a very marked differentiation in the size of holdings: 2 were of 4 and 7 yardlands each, 12 between 1 yardland and 3½ yardlands, and 9 of a ¼ to ¾ yardland. (fn. 100) Assessments for land tax in the late 18th century show that there were c. 28 small proprietors in the parish. Of these only between 6 or 8 were owner-occupiers, but they included, in 1798 for instance, the largest farmer in the parish, John Hall, with land assessed at £9 10s. (fn. 101) His nearest rival was David Samman, assessed at £7 11s. The fact that Samman was a pauper by 1819–20 may illustrate the financial uncertainty of small-scale farming. (fn. 102)
The conservative character of agriculture until 1796 is indicated by the small amount of inclosed land (38 a.), most of it apparently lying close to the village, compared with 37½ yardlands in the open fields. (fn. 103) Within the framework of the open-field system, however, there had been developments since the medieval period. It is likely that an original 2-field system was preserved here as in other north Oxfordshire parishes until comparatively late. (fn. 104) There were certainly 4 fields or quarters by 1685, but they may not have existed in 1601, when a terrier described the position of arable lands, acres, or ridges by reference to furlongs and not fields. (fn. 105)
In 1685 the divisions were Milcombe Quarter (called Wheat Quarter in 1748), which evidently lay to the east of the church, South Quarter, sometimes called South Field, in the tongue of land in the south of the parish, Petye Bush Quarter (Pitchy Bush in 1748 and Pit a Bush in 1796) and Midnill Quarter. (fn. 106) The way in which the changes in field rotation could take place is indicated by the names 'the hitching', which is found attached to various lands in Pitchy Bush Quarter in 1748, and 'hitching leys', recorded in 1796: presumably this was land taken at one time from the fallow or leys for arable. (fn. 107)
The leys were a feature of Wigginton's agriculture as of that of neighbouring parishes. The rectory land in 1685, for example, included 'grass ground' in 'Sweet Leys', 'Morrall Leys', Rynell, Pit Furlong, the Heath, and 'shooting on to Tadmarton ditch and Castle ditch'. (fn. 108) In 1748 a description of leys belonging to a holding included leys at Marchwithys, under Hanghill and Withycombe leys, as well as leys 'in the Heath' (at Black Heath, Ling Heath, Lott Heath) and on Horsehill and Roundhill. (fn. 109) In 1797 there was heath or grassland around and to the north of the village itself and in the very north of the parish towards Tadmarton. (fn. 110)
Meadow lay near the streams and was divided into lots. In 1748 a holding included a ¼ lot in Tenury Meadow, and other lots in Oxhay, Sidemore, South Mead, and at Clownam Bridge. (fn. 111) At inclosure 4 tenants had rights to the first mowth of meadow in the Mill Ham, Flag Meadow, and Mill Acres. (fn. 112) Holdings in the open field carried common rights, which included the right to cut furze on the heath. The tenement described in 1748 included a lot of land on 'fuel moor', and at inclosure in 1796 the poor's right to cut furze and other fuel growing on the commonable lands was specifically mentioned. (fn. 113)
Farming throughout the 17th and 18th centuries was of a mixed character and there is no indication of any wholesale conversion to pasture, such as took place in some neighbouring parishes: Davis's map of 1797, for instance, showed a mainly arable parish. (fn. 114) Names such as Peas Furlong, Oat Furlong, Rye Hill, Hay Down, and Wheat Quarter indicate the cropping, (fn. 115) and farmers' inventories confirm that the usual crops were barley, oats, hay, and wheat. Most farmers kept sheep, horses, pigs, and cattle. The inventory of one wealthy yeoman (d. 1667) included £10 worth of wool in his house, 77 sheep, 30 ewes and lambs, a few horses and pigs, and 3 stocks of bees; among his stored crops was a rick of wheat and maslin, and he had 2½ yardlands of crops in the field. (fn. 116) Another man (d. 1676/7) had livestock (pigs, cows, and horses) worth £67, and winter corn in the field worth £49. (fn. 117) The inventory of William Hall (d. 1683) gives a picture of the type of husbandry practised by a small farmer with 2 yardlands: he had mares and colts (£9 10s.), cows and a bull (£8 5s.), sheep and lambs (£9 2s. 6d.), a crop of corn and hay worth £20 10s., and wool and hemp worth £1 1s. His house also included a cheese chamber with cheese racks and boards. (fn. 118) Hemp was grown in the fields and spinning wheels are mentioned in the inventories of several farmers, as well as stored hemp and wool for spinning. (fn. 119)
The system of crop rotation followed at Wigginton included the fallow year or 'deads year'. A lease in 1654 of 2 yardlands of arable in the open fields enjoined good husbandry on the tenant, who was to leave all the fallows 'soiled' and ploughed 'ready for feed'; the lessor reserved all trees and right of entry to cut them. This lease was for 6 years at an improving rent of £19 for 4 years and then £20 a year. (fn. 120) Ordinances and presentments made in the courts leet of the late 18th century reveal some of the usual difficulties experienced in managing the open fields: in 1772 it was ordered that the cow pasture which was always hained (i.e. closed to cattle) on 21 April should in future be hained on 5 April, and that none should tie any horse, mare, or colt upon any bank between the cornlands in the fields. In 1781 3 tenants were presented for over-stocking the sheep-commons. (fn. 121)
In 1796 the inclosure award dealt with 1,124 a. of open field, waste, and common. (fn. 122) The lord of the manor received 2 a. for manorial rights. The largest allotments (194 a. and 188 a.) were made to the rector and to David Samman. Two allotments of 94 a. and 80 a. were made, but the remaining 29 allotments were much smaller: 17 of 10 a. to 60 a., 6 of 1 a. to 9 a., and 6 of under 1 a. (fn. 123)
Inclosure was not followed by any marked change in land-holding in Wigginton. Although there was great distress in the parish at this time, it was a consequence chiefly of the Napoleonic Wars and the difficult conditions after them. (fn. 124) In 1820 there were still 28 proprietors in the parish and in 1831 34 proprietors. The number of owner-occupiers had increased but the 2 largest holdings, with rentals of £263 and £145, were tenant-occupied. (fn. 125) Amalgamation of holdings, however, was undoubtedly taking place and by the mid-19th century smallscale farming was declining. In 1851 there were 12 farmers in the parish, 7 with farms between 97 a. and 250 a., and 5 with small-holdings of between 6 a. and 22 a. (fn. 126)
About 1842 the rector made available 35 allotments, known as the Dashlake allotments. In 1876 new rules were drawn up which made the holdings of an allotment dependent on attendance at church or chapel, and on good behaviour. Later these rules were found to be unworkable: from 1878 the rector let the ground for £30 a year to the tenant of Rectory farm, leaving him free to sub-let. (fn. 127) Farming remained mixed, although there was perhaps more permanent pasture after inclosure, and an 1827 lease specified an extra annual rent of £50 for every acre of meadow or pasture ploughed up, and another £50 for every acre sown or planted with flax seed, rape, hemp, woad, or teazels. (fn. 128) In 1914 57 per cent. of the parish was permanent pasture and there was a high proportion of cattle and sheep on the land compared with the south of the county. Wheat, oats, and barley were the main crops, with some mangolds, swedes, and turnips. (fn. 129) In 1919 over half (i.e. 100 a.) of Wigginton's glebe estate was pasture. (fn. 130) The ironstone is generally so close to the surface that in modern times large-scale arable farming has been considered unprofitable.
In the 1930s farming was still mixed with a substantial dairying side and there was a similar pattern of farming in 1961 when c. 65 per cent. of the parish was permanent pasture, running sheep and cattle. The crops were wheat, barley, and oats, and a small amount of roots. The average size of farms was small, ranging from 57 a. to 180 a., but all were fully mechanized. (fn. 131)
In the 1851 census the only non-agricultural workers recorded were 4 masons, a master carpenter, a waggoner, a timberer, a grinder, and a miller. (fn. 132) The mill or its millers are occasionally mentioned from 1086 onwards. (fn. 133) A miller continued to work the water-grist-mill until at least 1920, but other craftsmen and traders had disappeared rather earlier. (fn. 134) The village, nevertheless, had its own grocer, general store, butcher, baker, builder, blacksmith, thatcher, wheelwright, joiner, shoemaker, and tailor until after 1900. (fn. 135) Many women made gloves (for a Chipping Norton firm) and straw bonnets. The Wyatt family's building firm only came to an end after the Second World War. In 1962 many of the inhabitants worked in Banbury and Bloxham. (fn. 136)
The earliest documentary reference to the church is c. 1210. (fn. 137) About 1130, however, the canons of the church of St. George, Oxford, were in possession of part of the demesne tithes (fn. 138) and this may mean that some tithes were reserved for the incumbent of Wigginton.
The first recorded presentation was made by Ralph, son of Robert, an ancestor of the Fitzwyths, between 1209 and 1219, and he presented again in 1226. (fn. 139) The advowson followed the descent of the manor and so came into the hands of Sir John de Beauchamp in 1361. (fn. 140) In 1418 a presentation was made by John Eburton of Milcombe on the gift of Sir John and in 1419 by a group of men who were possibly Eburton's trustees. (fn. 141) Temporarily the manor and advowson descended separately: in 1459 Anne, relict of Thomas Sculle, presented; in 1483 and 1499 Sir William Berkeley, possibly her second husband, and in 1503 his relict Anne, presented. (fn. 142) By 1524 the advowson was sold to John Geyser who gave it to Richard Wye. (fn. 143) By 1546 the Crown had purchased it and reunited it with the manor, granting both to Sir Thomas Pope. (fn. 144) In 1555 Sir Thomas was licensed to settle the advowson on his new foundation, Trinity College, Oxford, but his intention was never carried out. (fn. 145) Turns of the advowson were sold or given away by the Popes on occasions: in 1572 Hugh and Elizabeth Powlett, for instance, presented. (fn. 146) In 1668, on the death of Thomas Pope, Earl of Downe, and the division of his estates, the Earl of Lindsey and other of Pope's heirs leased the advowson to Ambrose Holbech, who already held the manor, and others, and in 1676 they leased it to William Taylor. (fn. 147) In 1683 Sir Francis North presented (fn. 148) but by 1686 Thomas Rowney had acquired the advowson, for he gave it to Jesus College, Oxford, in that year. (fn. 149) The College has since regularly presented. (fn. 150)
In 1254 the value of the rectory was only £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 151) Its value had risen by 1428 to £8 13s. 4d., (fn. 152) by 1526 to £13 6s. 8d., out of which the rector was paying a curate £5 6s. 8d., and by 1535 to £17 13s. 4d. gross or £17 2s. 8d. clear. (fn. 153) In the early 17th century it was said to be worth £100 a year. (fn. 154) In the early 18th century it was only worth c. £80, but by the end of the century its gross value was £290. (fn. 155) In 1834 the rectory was endowed with £3,000, apparently by Jesus College, (fn. 156) and in 1887 it was worth £400. (fn. 157)
Robert d'Oilly granted two parts of the demesne tithes to the canons of St. George's in Oxford Castle. Henry I confirmed this grant in c. 1130. (fn. 158) These tithes passed to Oseney Abbey in 1149. (fn. 159) Before 1270 these tithes were commuted for a fixed annual payment of 5s. (fn. 160) On two occasions, in 1272 and 1283, when the pension was withheld, Oseney Abbey brought successful actions in the ecclesiastical courts to recover it. (fn. 161) The pension was still being paid to Oseney at the Dissolution. (fn. 162) In 1542 it was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 163) but appears to have been granted later to the lords of the manor, for in 1806 a feefarm rent of 5s. was being paid by the rector to the Duke of Buccleuch, (fn. 164) who was then lord.
There is no record of the total value of Wigginton tithes, but when they were commuted in 1844 the rector was awarded 174 a. for them with an annual rent-charge of 18s. 8d. for the tithe on tenements. (fn. 165) The rector also had part of the tithes of Milcombe, a chapelry of Bloxham, and at the inclosure of Milcombe in 1794 received 32 a. for them. (fn. 166) Wigginton's claim to Milcombe tithes, the basis for which is not known, led to a long dispute with Godstow Abbey ending c. 1200, when it was agreed that the Rector of Wigginton was to get half the tithes from 2 hides belonging to Merton Priory and all the tithes from 2 more hides. (fn. 167) Later the rector's tithable land was reckoned as 14½ yardlands which lay intermixed in the open fields with land tithable to Bloxham. (fn. 168) In a tithe dispute in 1601 it was stated that 'much of it (i.e. Wigginton's land) cannot be known'. (fn. 169) John Dyde, Rector of Wigginton, alleged that the Vicar of Bloxham was withholding his tithes and that Eton College, Bloxham's lay rector, was trying to deprive him of his predial tithes. (fn. 170) In another dispute in 1674 it was said that before the Civil War the holders of some messuages in Milcombe had been buried at Wigginton church; and that an aisle was set apart in his church for his Milcombe parishioners. (fn. 171) The customs about the tithes of wool and lambs indicate the complications of the system: if a man had part of his land in Bloxham parish and part in Wigginton and his commons were not fully stocked with sheep, the curate of Milcombe had the whole tithe of what belonged to Bloxham and the parson of Wigginton lost his tithe. In the case of one farm, the tithe corn went to Wigginton, but not the hay tithe. Tithe of the mill at Milcombe also belonged to the rector. (fn. 172) At the time of inclosure at Milcombe in 1794 Eton College was paying Wigginton's rector £15 a year for Milcombe tithes. (fn. 173)
The usual disputes likewise occurred over the collection of tithes in Wigginton itself: in a case of 1574 all the witnesses were agreed that if a man kept no more than 6 black sheep no tithe wool was paid but only ½d. on every fleece. (fn. 174)
The glebe was valued at £3 in the 14th century. (fn. 175) Since so many rectors were non-resident, glebe and tithes must have been leased at an early date but the first certain reference to leasing occurs in 1574. (fn. 176) Two terriers of the glebe in 1601 and 1685 indicate that the rector had arable and leys land amounting to c. 30 a. scattered throughout the open fields. (fn. 177) He also had 2 'lands' in the open fields of Milcombe. (fn. 178) When Jesus College revalued the rectory after tithe commutation in 1844, the property comprised the rectory-house, a small dwelling house in the village, 210 a. in Wigginton of which 30 a. had been allotted in lieu of glebe, and 32½ a. in Milcombe. (fn. 179) In 1887 the glebe, reduced to 225 a., was worth £326 a year; 218½ a. were sold in 1919, and by 1939 only 1 a. remained. (fn. 180)
The earliest known rector, instituted at some time between 1209 and 1219, was made subject to the rules of the Lateran Council by Hugh of Welles, Bishop of Lincoln, as he already had a benefice worth £2 10s. (fn. 181) He appears to have been followed by a younger brother of the lord of the manor, Gilbert son of Robert, a subdcacon. (fn. 182) In the 14th century another Fitzwyth, an acolyte, was incumbent. (fn. 183) In the later Middle Ages several incumbents were graduates. One of them, presented in 1507, had to pay an annual pension to his predecessor and was non-resident at the visitation of 1517–20. His successor was probably non-resident in 1526 and 1530 when he had a curate. (fn. 184) Wigginton had two educated incumbents during the Reformation period; the second, Hamlet Malbone (c. 1559–1572), had previously been master of the school maintained by the Trinity Guild in Chipping Norton and was 'a man well learned in grammar'. (fn. 185)
Wigginton's 17th-century rectors were usually resident. John Calcott (1594–1612) (fn. 186) evidently farmed his own glebe; agricultural implements, cows, horses, sheep, and crops on the glebe worth £32 were listed in the inventory drawn up on his death. (fn. 187) His successor, Gamaliel Holloway, also resided for some time, (fn. 188) and when he became rector of Kislingbury (Northants.) and resided there, his son Thomas acted as curate of Wigginton. (fn. 189) Thomas was reported as curate in 1635 and 1641 and later became rector. (fn. 190) The Holloways were a Royalist family. Gamaliel was present at the battle of Edgehill and actively supported the king on other occasions. (fn. 191) His son was ejected from Wigginton in 1646 and his wife was granted one-fifth of the issues of the rectory. (fn. 192) During the Interregnum Richard White was intruded as rector; the registers were not kept in this period. (fn. 193) After the Restoration Wigginton obtained in John Dyde (1662–83) another rector who had suffered for his loyalty to Charles I. (fn. 194) He was active in safe-guarding his church's temporal rights. (fn. 195) His will shows him to have been a man of some wealth and of studious inclinations. (fn. 196) His memorial inscription described him as Pietatis, fortitudinis, charitatis, exemplar spectabile. (fn. 197)
When Thomas Rowney granted the advowson to Jesus College in 1686, he stipulated that one of the five senior Fellows should be presented to the rectory whenever there was a vacancy, thereby preventing the danger of simony 'which too much is used by lay patrons' and at the same time enabling the college to elect as Fellows 'ingenious young men' who would otherwise be disappointed of promotion. (fn. 198) The college seems to have benefited at the expense of the parish in the 18th century. The meagre value of the benefice and possibly the remoteness of Wigginton led to non-residence and the employment of poorlypaid and often transitory curates. Between 1717 and 1738, for instance, there were at least four curates. (fn. 199) In 1738 the curate, who was paid £30 a year, was not licensed and lived four miles away, having 'no conveniency of boarding there'. (fn. 200) He also served Milcombe church once a month, (fn. 201) an obligation arising out of the payment of tithes by Milcombe villagers. The curate stated in 1738 that the rector, Francis Payn (1729–75), was then expected to reside (fn. 202) and he may have done so occasionally, but he was Dean of Jersey and lived there part of the year. (fn. 203) The parish does not seem to have been neglected, however, and the chancel was kept in good order. (fn. 204) Thirty years later the parish still had neither a rector or curate in residence. The curate held 4 communion services a year, performed Sunday duty at Wigginton, and took services at Milcombe 13 times a year. He catechized children in summer. (fn. 205) The absence of full visitation returns for the parish in the period 1768– 1802 may be attributed partly to an aged rector and partly to indifferent ones. The poor state of repair in the church at this time and reports of small congregations confirm neglect.
From 1789 to 1872 the living was held by two graduates of Jesus College, one of whom lived in Guernsey, (fn. 206) the other, as Fellow and Tutor of his college, being only occasionally resident. (fn. 207) Their curates lived in the rectory-house and by 1814 were paid £70. (fn. 208) In 1834 the congregation was c. 150, roughly half the population, and there were 25 communicants. (fn. 209) The curate, John Thorp, catechized the children once a month in Sunday school and gave a lecture, which was not part of his duty, on Sunday afternoons. (fn. 210) There were 8 communion services and 2 full additional services on Christmas Day and Good Friday. (fn. 211) A new parsonage was built in 1844. (fn. 212) The rector, John Williams, was an active parish priest. There were 2 services on a Sunday, evening service with a sermon once a week in Advent and Lent, and monthly communion; children were regularly catechized, and an evening school for adults was started with partial success. (fn. 213) Williams attempted to reform village morals by attaching moral conditions to the possession of the Dashlake allotments. (fn. 214) He felt that he was hampered in his work in Wigginton by a turbid spirit of excitement in his flock and by the facility with which publicans got licences: there were 3 inns in the village for a population of 320. (fn. 215)
The institution in 1876 of E. S. Ffoulkes, a former Roman Catholic, (fn. 216) was followed by a great increase in church services. Assisted by a permanent licensed curate he held 2 services on Sundays, matins daily, and communion twice a month. (fn. 217) He found that many of his parishioners had never been confirmed and, if confirmed, were noncommunicants. (fn. 218) His religious and moral zeal brought him into conflict with his parishioners, particularly when he attempted to restore the original rules relating to the Dashlake allotments. (fn. 219)
In 1879 A. D. Mozley became rector. He was the nephew of Cardinal Newman and a Tractarian. (fn. 220) His successor H. J. Riddelsdell continued the High Church tradition. Canon A. J. S. Hart has been incumbent since 1922; since 1937 he has been perpetual curate of Barford St. Michael with Barford St. John. (fn. 221)
The church of ST. GILES, built of the local ironstone, comprises chancel, nave, aisles, western tower, and porch set at an angle at the west end of the north aisle. (fn. 222) The only surviving feature earlier than the 13th century is a Romanesque capital reused as a corbel supporting the westernmost truss of the roof of the south aisle. The nave and aisles date from the 13th century, but the bases and capitals of the north arcade are earlier in character than those of the south. Both aisles are lit by lancet windows, arranged in grouped triplets. The original chancel arch has been replaced, but on the north side the newel stairs to the rood loft remain. A piscina indicates that there was formerly an altar at the east end of the south aisle.
Early in the 14th century the chancel was rebuilt, with the exception of the chancel arch, which survived until the 19th-century alterations. There are 'low-side' windows at the west end of both walls. Immediately to the west of the one on the south side there is a stone seat with an ogee-arched canopy, crocketed and decorated with ball-flower ornament. It is possible that this seat once surmounted the sedilia on the south side of the sanctuary, which shows signs of mutilation. Externally the chancel was decorated with a cornice with ball-flower ornament, which appears to have been re-sited later when a clerestory was added. Parker, writing in 1850, reported that there was a Decorated cornice 'stilted up above the Perpendicular clerestory'. (fn. 223) The cornice was restored to its original position during the restoration of 1870–1. The unbuttressed west tower dates from the late 14th or early 15th century. In the 15th century clerestories were added to both nave and chancel. In 1584 the churchwardens were cited because the church was 'in decay', but as they replied that it was under repair and would be finished in three weeks no extensive structural changes may have been involved. (fn. 224) Repairs were needed again in 1668, when the churchwardens were threatened with excommunication for not repairing the body of the church, and in 1671, when dissatisfaction with the progress of the work led to the substitution of new ones.
The churchwardens' accounts show that the fabric was in need of constant attention throughout the 18th century: (fn. 225) in 1734 and 1735 repairs, particularly to the porch, were carried out. The sundial on the tower was put up in 1745. In 1755 the churchwardens were ordered to have the south-east side of the church wall repaired and pointed, to have the south door mended and the porch paved, and to carry out many other minor repairs: (fn. 226) this work appears to have been carried out in 1757– 65, but there were many other small payments to the plumber and the carpenter in 1770 and 1790. In the period 1787–97 in particular repairs were being carried out on the roof and south aisle. Between 1798 and 1807 about £100 was paid out for repairs. In 1808 a new gallery was erected and the church was re-paved. In 1809 there were plans for completing the re-seating of the church and in 1811 a new font was purchased. A new pulpit and a new desk staircase were included in the estimate for repairs. (fn. 227)
The church appears to have been unheated before 1856. (fn. 228) By 1870 the building was 'in rapid decay' and the south aisle in particular had become unsafe. It was said that the chancel could not safely be touched unless the south aisle and the chancel arch were also repaired. Plans for restoration were made by William White of London. George Anthony of Waddesdon (Bucks.) was employed as builder and the church was re-opened in 1871 after the most urgent part of the work, the repair of the south aisle and chancel, had been completed. (fn. 229) The chancel clerestory was removed and a high-pitched roof was added. The builder is alleged to have taken advantage of the rector's illness and to have done the work so badly that the south aisle had to be repaired again in 1873–4. (fn. 230) The second part of the work was carried out in 1886 by the architect J. L. Pearson. (fn. 231) During the restoration all interior plaster was removed so that any mural paintings there may have been were destroyed. (fn. 232)
A 19th-century pulpit (replaced in 1935), (fn. 233) communion rails, and a communion table were probably installed at the time of the restoration work, but the early-19th-century pews were retained and two of the ancient bench ends, re-used in 1809–11, have therefore been preserved. The previous communion table is preserved in the south aisle. New nave pews were installed in 1963 in memory of W. Osborne Smith, churchwarden 1952–62. An organ, designed by Norman & Beard of London, was obtained in 1913 and electric light was installed in 1934. (fn. 234)
There are two medieval monuments in the chancel, in arch recesses, which have been obscured by the raising of the chancel floor and the insertion of benches. The recumbent knight now on the north side was originally lying on a black marble gravestone on the south side and a stone coffin with a cross on it, described by Rawlinson as on the north side, has been destroyed. The effigy of a recumbent man with two small female figures, one on either side, now in the southern recess, was fixed to the outside of the south aisle in the early 18th century. (fn. 235) The ledger stone to John Blount (d. 1699/1700) (fn. 236) is now only just identifiable.
A few fragments of old glass remain in the chancel windows. The stained glass in the east window was designed by A. L. Moore of London in 1909. (fn. 237)
There is a silver chalice of c. 1670. (fn. 238)
Of the 3 bells one was formerly dated 1631, but the present ones were recast in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 239) There is a clock of mid-17th-century date, arranged to strike the hours on the tenor bell. It has been disused since the 1920s. (fn. 240)
The registers are complete from 1558. (fn. 241) The other parish records are kept in a handsome parish chest, bought in 1796. (fn. 242) The earlier, 16th-century, chest is also preserved in the church.
The Compton Census of 1676 listed 16 Prostestant nonconformists in the village. It is known that there was at least 1 woman Quaker, (fn. 243) but probably most of the nonconformists were Anabaptists, for in 1738 the rector reported 12 Anabaptists of 'no considerable rank', and said that their number had been constant over several years. They had no meeting house. The rector also reported 1 Quaker and the Quaker registers for the 18th century give the names of four. (fn. 244) Over 30 years later there were still Anabaptists in the parish though their numbers were 'lessening daily'. (fn. 245) In 1814 Robert Cleaver and his wife were reported as Baptists and in 1817 the rector said that there was only one dissenter 'who is sometimes an Anabaptist and (as I understand) at other times of another denomination'. (fn. 246)
The revival of dissent in this remote village was encouraged by the strong communities at Chipping Norton and Hook Norton. (fn. 247) By 1835 the Particular Baptists at Wigginton were sufficiently organized to have a chapel built with sittings for 100. (fn. 248) The 1851 Census recorded an average congregation of 50, many of its members doubtless coming from neighbouring villages; when the rector reported in 1854 that the chapel was 'not very numerously' attended he may have been referring to Wigginton members only. (fn. 249) The chapel (of exceptionally severe aspect) remains near the village hall, and is now used as a store-house.
In 1834 there were said to be 2 Wesleyan families, and a Wigginton house was registered for meetings by the Methodist minister of Chipping Norton. (fn. 250) A barn, belonging to one of the Stanbra family, was licensed in the same year. (fn. 251) The certificate, which was signed by a Hook Norton dissenter, gives no indication of the denomination, and some at least of the Stanbras were strong Anglicans. (fn. 252) Although the rector in 1878 stated that there were only 2 professed dissenters many more of his parishioners must have been willing to attend chapel, for in 1883 a Wesleyan chapel was built. (fn. 253) A Methodist family from outside the village, from the Heath, was and still is (1965) the backbone of the congregation. In 1955 the church's congregation was increasing; the building was redecorated and electric heating was installed. (fn. 254)
Until 1832 there was no regular day school in Wigginton. In 1738 there was a dame school in the parish, at which the rector and his curate paid to have 6 children taught reading. As soon as the children could read, they were replaced by others. (fn. 255) By 1808 this arrangement had come to an end and there was a Sunday school, where about 30 children were taught to read, write, and say the catechism. The parishioners contributed £6 yearly to its support. (fn. 256)
A small dame school, with 10 boys and 10 girls, existed in 1815, as well as the Sunday school which then had 33 pupils. According to the rector there was no great desire in the village for learning; the National Society's new plan for instruction could not be introduced since no one in the village was capable of understanding it; there was unconquerable indifference among the parents, who sent their boys to work as soon as possible, while their girls were sent lacemaking. (fn. 257) Even so, within 3 years another day school, under a master, had been set up and the Sunday school still flourished. Wigginton girls, however, were still employed in lace-making for the sake of the wage. (fn. 258)
A regular day school, allied to the National Society, was established by the curate, John Thorp, in 1832 and a proper building was provided; there were said to be 36 boys and 31 girls attending, compared with 35 and 34 in the Sunday school, but the room was so small that it is doubtful whether all could be accommodated at the same time. The school was supported partly by voluntary contributions and partly by payments of 4d. from farmers' children and 2d. and 1d. from labourers, the master receiving 12s. a week for himself and his wife. (fn. 259) There was also a small school kept by a woman, where 4 girls and 4 boys were taught at their parents' expense. (fn. 260)
Within a year the attendance at the National school had risen to 46 boys and 37 girls, ranging from 3 to 12 years old. (fn. 261) By 1854 50 children attended the school. The Sunday school numbers had dropped to 40 and the rector complained that it was impossible to keep children there after 11 or 12 years of age. (fn. 262) The day school had one uncertificated master, who was greatly underpaid, and there was little equipment. There was no charity support, and any financial deficit had to be borne by the rector, whom the trustees left in full control. In 1859 the school was enlarged, on ground given by the rector, to accommodate 72 children, although attendance remained on the same level. (fn. 263)
The rector's reports of 1866 and 1868 give attendance figures at the day school as 60 and at the Sunday school as 50. Of the Sunday school pupils 21 did not attend on weekdays. The rector considered the evening school to be very well attended. (fn. 264) The day school figures may have been optimistic since the average attendance in 1869 was reported to be only 40. (fn. 265)
In 1871 51 children attended the day school. (fn. 266) Children over 7 years paid 2d. a week, the others 1d.; the girls were taught needlework by the assistant mistress. (fn. 267) In 1878 the rector reported that there were no pupil teachers, but 5 voluntary teachers, 4 of them women; an evening school was held in the winter when pupils could be got to attend. (fn. 268)
Before 1894 accommodation was increased to 89. Attendance, however, barely reached half the capacity; in 1894 there were 30 day pupils, (fn. 269) rising to 39 by 1904. (fn. 270) The school was in receipt of a Parliamentary grant by 1890 and a fee grant by 1894 which, with voluntary contributions and an old grant, made up an income of £95 in 1897–8. (fn. 271)
In 1958 the school, which had a roll of 17 pupils, 16 of whom lived in Swerford, was closed and the children were transferred to Hook Norton Church of England school, until a new school for the children of Wigginton and South Newington could be erected. (fn. 272) Following the closure of the school the building was successfully claimed by the descendants of the former rector, John Williams, under the terms of the School Sites Act, the major part having been built on ground given by Williams in 1859. The claimants then (1965) presented the building to the parish as a village hall. (fn. 273)
An almshouse, of which nothing further is known, may have existed in 1642, when an 'almswoman in the churchhouse' was mentioned. (fn. 274)
At the inclosure in 1796 c. 36 a. on Wigginton Heath were awarded for the provision of fuel for the poor. (fn. 275) At first part of the land was used to grow furze, but later it was let and the rent used to buy coal. Until 1804 the rent was £12, the price of 10 tons of coal, but by 1812 the parish was able to let the land for £30 a year. The poor were required to pay 1d. a cwt. to defray toll charges when the coal was brought from Banbury, although the farmers lent waggons and teams for the cartage free. (fn. 276) By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners in 1908 the income was not to be applied in aid of the rates. The distribution of coal in 1952 was 80 cwt. to 33 recipients. In 1962 the income was estimated at £25–£50 a year. (fn. 277)