Manors & Estates

Rotherfield Peppard was one of several 5-Hide Estates in the Henley area which were probably detached from the Royal Manor of Benson before the Norman Conquest.  From the 11th to the 20thC it was held by a series of high-status Lords including the Pipards, Butlers, Stonors & Flemings; the Pipards maintained a Manor House & nearby Deer Park, but they and their successors were mostly non-resident.  From the 16thC to the early 18thC some younger members of the Stonor Family lived at Blount’s Court, a house built probably in the early 15thC by the Owner of a short-lived sub-Manor.  The 19thC Perambulations imply that the Manor originally encompassed the entire Parish. The Stonors sold off nearly all of the Estate in the 17thC, however, and in 1840 held only 192 acres, mostly as a single Block in the North-west.  The remains were finally sold in 1894.  Other large Estates in 1840 were also relatively compact, including (in the South-west) 245 acres belonging to the Wyfold Estate, in the centre 220 acres held by Charles Elsee of New Mills and 212 acres by Mary Atkyns Wright of Crowsley Park, and in the East 432 acres held by the Hodges Family of Bolney and 158 acres by the Halls of Harpsden. These Estates were largely broken up during the 19th & 20thCs.

Rotherfield Peppard Manor – Descent to 1465
In 1066 Rotherfield Peppard was held freely by Uluric, and in 1086 by Miles Crispin of the King.  The Manor formed part of the Honour of Wallingford, which escheated to the Crown in 1300 and later became the Honour of Ewelme.  Its Overlords were therefore the Holders of the Honour, and men from Rotherfield Peppard attended the Honour’s Frankpledge Courts from the Middle Ages to the 19thC.  Miles Crispin probably Granted Rotherfield Peppard to his Seward Gilbert Pipard, whom he sent to make a donation of Land to the Monks of Abingdon in 1107.  Gilbert’s successor William Pipard, probably his son or grandson, held 6-Fees of the Honour of Wallingford in the mid-12thC, of which Rotherfield Peppard was one.  William was succeeded by his sons Gilbert (d.1191–92), who died on Crusade & William (d.1195).  William’s successors were probably his sons Walter (d.1214) & Roger (d.1225), who inherited Lands in Ireland from his uncle.  Roger’s son William Pipard died in 1227, leaving his daughter Alice, a Minor, as Heiress. Alice became the Ward of Ralph FitzNicholas, who before 1242 married her to his younger son Ralph.  Their son Ralph Pipard, 1st Lord Pipard, inherited the Manor about 1265 and died in 1303.  His successors were his grandson John, a Minor, who died in 1306, and his younger son John (d.1331), who Granted the Reversion of his English Lands after his death to his brother-in-law, Edmund Butler.  Edmund Butler, twice Justiciar of Ireland, died in 1321, and was succeeded by his son James, the future Earl of Ormond, but then a Minor.  James (d.1338) left as heir his 2nd son James (II), aged 7, who received his father’s Estates in 1347; meanwhile his mother Eleanor married Thomas de Dagworth, who held the Manor in 1346. James Butler (II) died in 1382 and was succeeded by his son James (III).  In 1391 James conveyed the Manor to John Waryn, Thomas Clobber of Henley, and William Blike, presumably as Trustees in connection with his purchase of Kilkenny Castle.  The Manor was then briefly divided. One half was held by William Faukener on his death in 1412, and passed to William his son; the other half was acquired by John Drayton, possibly the man of that name (d.1417) commemorated in the Abbey Church at Dorchester.  Both Faukener & Drayton received cash payments from the Manor between 1398/9 & 1408/9.

Descent from 1465
The 2 parts of the Manor, together with the former sub-Manor of Kents (below), seem to have been reunited in the possession of Richard Drayton of Dorchester, presumably a descendant of John Drayton. Richard sold the Mnor to his stepson Thomas Stonor in 1465.  The Manor, known thereafter as Rotherfield Peppard or Blount’s Court (from the former Chief House of Kents Manor), descended in the Stonor Family until the Sale of 1894, although not always in the direct male line.  Thomas Stonor (d.1474) left the Manor in his Will to his 2nd son Thomas (d.1512), whose eldest son Walter (d.1550) lived at Blount’s Court before inheriting Stonor in 1536.  In the 17thC Blount’s Court was again occupied by younger members of the Family, of whom the last was Henry Stonor (1633–1705). On his death the House and some of its Land were Sold.

In 1894 the Stonors sold Rotherfield Peppard, as part of their larger Nettlebed Estate, to H H Gardiner, a London Businessman who was forced to sell following financial losses.  Robert Fleming (1845–1933), a Scottish Financier, bought the Estate in 1903,  but sold the outlying parts in 1913, when the Lordship of Rotherfield Peppard was divided. Manorial Rights over Peppard Common became attached to Sadgrove (later called Manor) Farm, while those over Kingwood Common were said to go with Colmore Farm;  Fleming seems nonetheless to have retained the Rights over Kingwood, and was called Lord of the Manor of Kingwood in 1920–31. The Lord of Peppard Manor was then Walter Ford of Dunsden, presumably as successor to George Ford, the Tenant of Sadgrove Farm in 1913.  Fleming was succeeded by his son Philip, who, in the late 1930s, gifted the entire Nettlebed Estate (then 2,000 a.) to his nephew (Robert) Peter Fleming (d.1971), in whose Family it remains. Fleming was still called Lord of the Manor in the 1950s.

Kents Manor & Blount’s Court
A sub-Manor called Kents was created in the 13thC. In 1286 Ralph Pipard Granted John of Kent & Emma his wife an annual Rent of 1-Mark which Roger Stormy paid for Land called la Selgrave in Rotherfield Peppard.  Some 3-yrs later Kent was given free Pannage in Pipard’s Wood and free Grinding at his Mill, and at about the same time Ralph sold him a House & Curtilage, possibly near Peppard Common.  In 1319 John’s descendant Robert of Kent held a House,  Yardlands, 3½-ac of meadow, 10s Rent, Pannage in the Lord’s Wood, Common in Kingwood, and a way extending from the House to Selegrovelond, all of which he sold to Roger de Shire.  Roger, in turn, sold the Property to John de Alveton in 1321, a transaction which Robert of Kent confirmed.  John de Alveton (d.1361), the Earl of Ormond’s Attorney-General, acquired other Lands in the Parish between 1323 & 1340, which on his death passed to his stepson Thomas Blount.  Blount (d.1407) was 1st recorded in Rotherfield Peppard in the early 1360s holding his stepfather’s Estate.  In 1396 he leased to John Chiltern a house called Benschefysplace and Land called Seyntfeyslond or Groveslond.  In 1401 Blount held a Court & Land at Hellelane (an early spelling of Highlands) for a nominal Rent of 1d each; Groveslond was still held by John Chiltern.  Thomas was succeeded by his son John Blount, the last member of the Family, who was described as Lord of Rotherfield Peppard (presumably meaning Kents) in 1412.  In 1425 the whole Manor of Kents, with Land in Rotherfield Peppard, Kingwood, and several surrounding Parishes, was held by John Chiltern, before its re-absorption into the main Rotherfield Peppard Manor before 1465.

Blount’s Court
Blount’s Court, which lies on the Southern edge of the Parish along the Stoke Row to Shiplake Road, was built probably by John Blount or his successors in the early 15thC.  The House was acquired with the rest of Kents & Rotherfield Peppard Manors by Thomas Stonor in 1465, and became a Minor residence of the Stonor Family until its Sale c.1705;  Charles Price acquired it c.1722,  and in 1803 the Estate passed to his cousin Thomas Ovey, whose son sold it in 1821 to Charles Elsee of New Mills. Elsee sold it to John Bayley in 1828, repurchased it in 1836, and held 220 a. in the Parish in 1840, before Auctioning the Estate in 1841. The Purchaser was Sir William Thomas Knollys (1797–1883), a descendant of the Knollys Family of Rotherfield Greys.  Thereafter the Estate was gradually dispersed, culminating in the Sale of Blount’s Court House in 1933. In 1960 the House was converted into Company Laboratories & Offices.  The conversion removed or obscured many earlier features, but an internal 15thC Stone Doorway and some 16thC panelling have been identified.  On Henry Stonor’s death in 1624 the house included a Hall, 2 Parlours, 9 Chambers, 2 Closets & a Lobby; Service Areas included a Kitchen, 2 Pantries, a Larder & Milkhouse, a Bakehouse, a Brewhouse, a Stable & 3 Service Chambers, including the Maid’s Chamber.  Probably in the 18thC the House was refronted in Stone by the Price Family, and was given a Doric Porch and a semicircular Bay window.  The main Front (including the Porch) faces Eastwards across the Lawn, while the Bay window looks North towards Stony Bottom. A Southern Wing, facing Blount’s Court Road, adjoins the main part of the House at right angles.  When Auctioned in 1841 the Mansion included a Stone Hall & Staircase, 2 parlours, a library, a drawing room, a boudoir, 11 bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, closets & water closets; the Service part included a Servants’ Hall, a butler’s pantry, a man’s bedroom, bachelors’ bedrooms, a housekeeper’s room, a kitchen, a larder & extensive cellars. Outbuildings included an ornamental Dairy & Scullery, a Coach-house, a Stable & 3 Servants’ rooms.

BlountsCourt1862Blount’s Court c.1862, from the North-east. The Exterior reflects remodelling probably by the Price Family in the 18thC, but remains of the late-Medieval House have been identified inside

When the House was Sold in 1960 it was described as a ‘fine Georgian Residence … solidly built of stone and part in Brick with slated Roof with 4-Urn Vase Surmounts’, and included a Hall, 4 Reception Rooms, Domestic Offices, 2 Suites of Bedrooms each with Bathroom, 5 Secondary Bedrooms with 2 Bathrooms, 2 Servants’ Bedrooms, 3 small Flats, and an ‘old world Gardener’s Cottage’.  In the late 20thC the original House was retained but was greatly extended Westwards with Offices & Laboratories over the former Shrubbery.

A separate Farmhouse at Blount’s Court was also owned by the Stonors until 1705, and descended thereafter with the main House, whose Owners let it to Tenant Farmers. Brick-built with a plain tile Roof, the House has a 16thC core; its 18thC front was added probably by the Price Family, while 19thC alterations may have been by Knollys. Outbuildings include an early 18thC Barn.

Other Estates
Two neighbouring Estates contained Land in the Parish in the Middle Ages.  In the West, Thame Abbey acquired 200 acres of Royal Demesne in Kingwood in the 13thC, which became attached to its Manor of Wyfold (held of the Royal Manor of Benson).  In the 19th & 20thCs the Wyfold Estate still extended into Rotherfield Peppard, although most of it lay in the neighbouring Parish of Checkendon.  The Medieval Manor of Harpsden extended into Peppard’s East part, where the Hall Family of Harpsden Court held 158 acres in 1840.  The Halls Sold it in 1851.

Several new Estates were created in the late 17thC when the Stonors sold most of the Manor, probably to pay Recusancy Fines.  In 1684, for example, John Stonor sold Highlands Farm to Robert Hanson, a Maltster of Blewbury near Didcot (formerly Berks).  Hanson’s son John sold the Farm in 1719 to Samuel Grice of Henley, whose grandson George Blount sold it in 1754 to Anthony Hodges of Bolney Court in Harpsden.  By then the Estate included the neighbouring Properties of Cowfields Farm & Gillotts, which had also formerly belonged to the Stonors.  The Hodges Family remained Owners of the 432-acre Estate in 1840, and c.1855 it was evidently sold to Edward Mackenzie of Fawley Court.  Most was auctioned by Keith Ronald Mackenzie in 1906 and broken up, and Gillotts was sold c.1920.

Samuel Norman, whose Family had been Tenants of Rotherfield Greys Manor, held Land close to the Peppard–Greys Boundary in the late 18thC.  Mary Atkyns Wright held the 212-acre Estate in 1840, adjoining her Lands in Rotherfield Greys. Known as Peppard Farm, it formed part of the Crowsley Park Estate sold to Henry Baskerville in 1844, and was Auctioned as part of the Mackenzie Estate in 1906.  The Farm, with neighbouring Greysgreen Farm in Rotherfield Greys, was owned by Mrs Pipe Wolferstan in the 1930s, who by this date was described as the Principal Landowner in the Parish.

Wallingford Priory held Lands & Rents in Rotherfield Peppard & Newnham Murren, worth £1-10s in 1291.  Goring Priory held Land at Colmore of Peppard Manor until the Dissolution.  The Glebe, about 56 acres from the 17th to early-20thC, lay in the centre of the Parish, surrounding the Church & Rectory.

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