Chalford (a Liberty in Aston-Rowant Parish 3½-miles South of Thame) and Copcourt were 2 Hamlets in the Parish, each of which had their separate field systems and Manors. Chalford grew up on Chalk ground at a spot where the Holbrook was easily Fordable. It had 7-Houses in 1738 and now consists of a few Cottages & 2 Farmhouses. The smaller Farmhouse, Chalford Green Farm, dates from the 17thC and was probably Richard Cossen’s House in 1665; the larger Manor Farm goes back to 1613 when William Hester, the younger, married Dorothy Clarke.
OS Map 1891 Sth Oxon XLI.15 (Chalford)
It was built for him by his father William Hester, Gentleman, who undertook to erect a house of 4-Bays and an adjoining Barn of 4-Bays. The Family were Lessees of the Manor in the 16thC. Later the House appears to have been occupied by Robert Munday, who was rated on 6 Hearths for his Chalford House in 1665. It is a Timber-framed building of 4-Bays with Chequer Brick filling and is mainly of 2-Storeys with a row of Dormer Attics, but it’s North Gable-end is single-Storey. The whole house stands on a rubble-stone Base. At its Northern end, there is a massive Chimney Stack of Brick with 3 Chimneys set diagonally. Inside, the House retains its original Timber Beams and until about 1926, when it was sold to the United States, there was some contemporary Wood Panelling. The House & Outbuildings, including an ancient weather-boarded Barn of 4-Bays with a half-hipped Roof, are surrounded on 3 sides by Water. The Mill-house that once stood close by has been taken down, but the Mill-sluice and part of the Millstream remain. This House was connected with the Disaster of 1582 when the Plague was brought by a Visitor from Norfolk and 7 of the Villagers died in consequence.
Richard Davis’s Map Of Oxfordshire 1797
To the North of Chalford lay Copcourt, a small Hamlet, consisting today of 2 Farmhouses and a few Cottages. Only one of the Farmhouses, Cop Court Manor, is in Aston; the other has always been in Lewknor. The name Cobicote or Copcote means in Old English ‘the cottage under the Hill’, and the present Manor-House lies beneath a low Hill which protects it from the prevailing South-west wind. From at least 1279 until 1620 the Cripps (or Crispe) Family were Farmers here, and their House must have been on the Site of the present House. They are said to be the Ancestors of the late Sir Stafford Cripps. The present House dates from the late 18thC when it was still a Farmhouse, but it was completely modernised between 1789 & 1950. Its Elizabethan Fireplace & wood panelling were introduced from East House, Pinner (Middlesex), by the then Owner, E B Montesole, Esq. The Moat, crossed by 3-18thC Bridges, is a survival from the Ancient Building, but the wrought-iron Gates are a recent addition of Venetian origin. A Medieval Stone Bastion is the remains of the Drawbridge of the Medieval House. The Farm-buildings include 2 Timber-framed Barns dating from the 16th, 17th, & 18thCs. Both have Brick infilling; one is Tiled and has a Dovecot; the other is Thatched. Two Dovecots, it may be noted, belonged to the Manor in 1575. There is also an 18thC square Granary of double Boarding; it stands on Straddle Stones and has 1765 RC carved on a Beam.
Around 6,000 Moated Sites are known in England. They consist of wide Ditches, often or Seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more Islands of dry Ground on which stood Domestic or Religious Buildings. In some cases the Islands were used for Horticulture. The majority of Moated Sites served as prestigious Aristocratic & Seigneurial Residences with the provision of a Moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical Military Defence. The peak period during which Moated Sites were built was between about 1250 & 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in Central & Eastern parts of England. However, Moated Sites were built throughout the Medieval Period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms & sizes. They form a significant Class of Medieval Monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of Wealth & Status in the Countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of Organic remains.
Manor House. Mid 18thC, incorporating probably 17thC portion to rear. Ashlar stone plinth; Red Brick with flared Headers in Flemish Bond; 20thC plain-tile hipped Roof with Lead Ridges; Brick end Stacks to left & right, Ridge stack to Left return. Double-depth Plan. 2-Storeys & Attic; 4-window Range. 4-panel Door to left of centre with Fanlight and painted Wood surround of fluted Doric Pilasters supporting triangular Pediment. 16-pane unhorned Sashes with Segmental Brick Heads to all Openings. Dentil Brick Course to Eaves. 2 Hipped Dormers with 6-pane unhorned Sashes.
Interior: of interest.
Chalford & Copcourt Tithe Map 1840
When Labour won the 1945 General Election, Clement Attlee appointed Stafford Cripps President of the Board of Trade, the 2nd most important Economic Post in the Government. Although still a strong Socialist, Cripps had modified his views sufficiently to be able to work with mainstream Labour Ministers. In Britain’s desperate post-War Economic circumstances, Cripps became associated with the Policy of “Austerity.” As an upper-Class Socialist, he held a Puritanical view of Society, enforcing Rationing with equal severity against all Classes. Together with other individuals, he was instrumental in the foundation of the original College of Aeronautics, now Cranfield University, in 1946. The Vice-Chancellor’s Building is known as “Stafford-Cripps“.