14 – Binfield Hundred

Alexander Popes’s Manor

A Hundred in Oxford, in the extreme South East, extending from the Chilterns to the Thames. It contains 7 Parishes and part of another. Population 9,598. Houses 1,962.  Binfield is now part of South Oxfordshire District.  One of the 14½-Hundreds or subdivisions of the County of Oxford, situated in the South-Eastern part of the County, and bounded on the North by the Hundreds of Ewelme & Pyrton; on the East by the Counties of Bucks & Berks; on the South by the County of Berks; and on the West by the, Hundred of Langtree (13). It contains the Parishes of Bix, Caversham, Harpsden, Henley-upon-Thames, Rotherfield Greys, Rotherfield Peppard & Shiplake, with part of the Parish of Sonning.  The area of the Hundred is about 23,000 acres.

Parishes of Binfield Hundred No.s  1 to 8

Kingwood Common, in the Hundred of Binfield, County Oxford, 4 miles West of Henley-upon-Thames.”

BinfieldManorThe Manor House at Binfield was the Home of the Catholic Dancastle Family for numerous generations. They were friends and Patrons of the Poet, Alexander Pope, who lived at nearby Pope’s Manor. The present House was built in 1754, as a Country retreat for Sir William Pitt  (a distant cousin of ‘Pitt the Elder‘, Earl of Chatham), at a cost of £36,000. Binfield was his Chief Residence.  It is currently owned by the Sultan of Brunei who stays in the area during the Polo Season.
Large House in Parkland with Lake. Early-18thC Centre with early-19thC extensions, altered mid & late-20thC.
Materials: part painted brick but mostly painted render. Low pitched Slate Roofs.
Plan: rectangular Plan with cross-Wing extension on each end and Service extension to East.
Exterior: 2-Storeys. Most Chimneys have been removed, only 3 remain. Plinth, dentilled, moulded cornice & parapet. Sash windows with glazing bars. Entrance (North)
Front: pedimented centre section of 5-Bays, segmental Pediments over 2 outer windows on Ground Floor. Centre 3-Bays slightly projecting with Pedimented Doric Porch, triglyph frieze, mutule cornice & Pediment. 3-Bay projecting cross-Wings on each side of Centre section with single-Bay returns. Pediments over Ground Floor windows. Pediments and Porch are late 20thC. South (Garden) front: 4 canted Bays, each with 3 windows, recessed sections between of 2, 1 & 1 Bays.
Interior: not inspected. House is picturesquely situated at end of Avenue of Beech Trees. 

Surrounding Hundreds
Binfield Place Sketch

Binfield Place which faces South, dates from the Reign of Henry VII, though much altered and reduced in size. It was originally E-shaped in Plan, with a total length of about 88-ft, and was evidently of half-Timber work above the Cellars & Foundations. Of the original Building only the East Wing and the part of the main Block East of the former Entrance survive, the Western portion of the main Block having been replaced by or incorporated in an 18thC Wing. The half-Timber Walls were probably converted into Brick during the 17thC and the greater part of the back, or Northside, of the Building, has been modernised. The original wood wall-plate can be seen outside in the main South wall, and the Foundations of the West Wing have been discovered in places.  All the windows are square with wood frames and the Roofs are tiled; one of the Chimneys bear the date 1702. The present length of the building is about 48-ft.  The Entrance Doorway, originally a window, is in the South wall.  To the right of the Doorway, inside, is a Passage-way lined with early 17thC panelling with fluted uprights & cornice, and on the inside of the outer wall near the ceiling is an original early 16thC moulded Beam, evidently part of the former half-timber walling.

Binfield Place

From the Passage, are steps up to the South-east Room, and there are also steps down to the Cellar, the latter now covered by an ingeniously hinged Trap-door. The room opening off this room to the North of the Passageway has a 16thC Stone Fireplace with moulded Jambs & Lintel. The plaster Ceiling hides some 16thC moulded Beams, one large bridge-Joist across the middle supporting the moulded floor Joists. These were open from below and have traces of their original painted decoration – a running pattern in red & green with white roses.  The Stairs, which are opposite the present Entrance, are of no particular interest.  The Screen on the 1st-Floor dividing the top Landing from the space above the Entrance Lobby is made up with 17thC Panelling, and opening off this space into the North-West Room is an original 16thC Doorway of wood with moulded Jambs and 4-centred Arch in a square Head with sunk spandrels; the outside of the Doorway is on the West side towards the Room.  A Passage on the South, similar to that below, is lined with Panelling of about 1620, as is also the South-East Bedroom. In the North-East Room is a Stone Fireplace like that in the room below.  Against the Road to the South, and exactly opposite the position of the former middle Doorway, is a 17thC Gateway with Brick Posts having moulded Stone Cappings & Balls.


Focused on the South-west Chilterns: the Riverside Market Town of Henley-on-Thames and at its 4 neighbouring Parishes  Henley began as a Planned Medieval Town & Inland Port, funnelling Grain, Wood & (later) Malt into London.  Later it developed as a Coaching Centre and as a fashionable Resort, exemplified in the 19thC by the development of its famous Regatta. The adjoining Parishes are typical of the Chilterns, with their scattered Settlement & mixture of Wood, Pasture & small Hedged Closes. They include several deserted or shrunken Settlements, including Bolney and the newly-discovered site of Bix Gibwyn Church.  Important buildings include Greys Court and, in Henley, a richness of 18thC Brick-built Houses & Medieval Timber-Framing.

Local Oxfordshire Hundreds c.1808
Click to Enlarge

Map of Oxford County
Surveyed by a local man, Richard Davis of Lewknor and published in 1797. This large Map consists of 16 Sheets at an impressively detailed Scale of 1:31,680 or 2in to 1-mile. No more than 200 copies were ever made, the evidence is based on all sets of the Map having manuscript serial numbers – this Image is part of No.34.  Very few complete copies survive.  In terms of what the Map shows, a clear break has been made from the Saxton-led traditional County Map, as here far more detail than previously is featured. Not only are County and Hundred Boundaries, Rivers & Streams, Towns & Villages, Parks & Woodland depicted, but here we have Roads, Tracks, Hedges, indeed every Field can be seen, and relief is beautifully represented by the use of hachuresDavis was also Topographer to His Majesty, George III.


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