The Ancient Parish covered 1,288 acres, but its area was slightly increased in the 1870s as a consequence of the Divided Parishes Acts (1876–1882) and was given in the Census of 1891 as 1,301 acres. The increase is to be accounted for by the inclusion in the Parish of Woodmead, the Riverside Pasture opposite the Village, where there had been for Centuries several small detached parts of the neighbouring Parishes of Newington & Warborough as well as of Benson, Berrick Salome & Ewelme, which presumably represented early inter-Commoning arrangements. Most of the Parish lies in a large bend of the River Thame which forms the Parish Boundary for about 2-miles and separates Drayton from Warborough. Neither the Western Boundary with Dorchester nor the Northern Boundary with Chislehampton is marked by any distinctive features. About 300-acres of Drayton, Holcombe Grange, lie on the opposite side of the River.
Richard Davis’s Map Of Oxfordshire 1797
The Lower Section of the River Thame runs from the Town of Thame to its confluence with the River Thames just South of Dorchester-on-Thames: a distance of about 52km. From Thame Town, the River flows broadly West past the Villages of Shabbington & Ickford to Waterstock. It then turns to the South now passing under the M40 & A40 Junction & Services at Wheatley, past Cuddesdon Mill & Chiselhampton, (where it is joined by the Chalgrove) before continuing on to Dorchester.
Except at Holcombe Grange the underlying Gault Clay is generally covered with Gravel and the Parish is remarkably Flat, the highest point (244ft.) being on Primrose Hill South of the River. Apart from the Trees of the Village, the Riverside & Holcombe Grange, the only Woodland is the Copse to the North-west of the Village and this is recent: it is not shown on the Tithe Award Map of 1841 or the Ordnance Survey Map of 1881. Holcombe Grange is better wooded than the rest of the Parish and its Timber is mentioned several times in the visitations made by the President & Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford. In 1769 298 Elms & Ashes were cut leaving 2,290 Trees standing. In 1811 the Timber was reported to be in bad order and arrangements were made for the felling of about 900 Trees. In the 14thC ‘le Hurst de Draytone‘ is mentioned and this is probably the same as the Meadow to the North-east of the Village, which in 1841 was called the Hurst. This suggests that the meaning here was not ‘Wood’ but ‘Bank‘. The Meadows along the River are liable to flooding and the Fields of Drayton are traversed by many small Watercourses & Ditches the ‘Scouring’ of which, or rather the failure to do so, was one of the main concerns of the Manorial Court in the 17th & 18thCs.
Drayton-St-Leonard Parish Plan
Two metalled Roads lead out of the Village, one to Stadhampton across Haywards Bridge, the other West to Dorchester & Burcot. There are also 2 un-metalled Roads, one leading to Chislehampton, the other across the River to Warborough & Newington. The River was formerly crossed by 2 Fords. The lower of these, by the Village, remains un-Bridged but the other, Haywards, was Bridged in 1884 by Public Subscription. Before that there seems to have been a Footbridge at this Ford, certainly in 1841. There have been at least 2 other Footbridges. The one that remains, just above Lower Grange Farm, is a replacement of the Bridge marked at the same place in 1767. The other, just above the Ford, was built after 1897 and was washed away after 1948. The Village stands on the right Bank of the River about 2-miles North-east of Dorchester. Its double name of Drayton St Leonard 1st appears in the Post Office Directory of 1847. Formerly it had been called Drayton by Wallingford. The new name, a natural one to adopt as the Church was dedicated to St Leonard, has been regularly used since 1847.
The Village covers a large area for the number of its Houses. Apart from the 8 Council Houses built since 1945, most of Drayton lies between the Church & the River Thame. There are a remarkable number of old Houses. At least 15 were built in the 16th or 17thCs, although in some cases there have been extensive later alternations & additions. The Hearth Tax returns of 1665 list 16 houses with 1 to 7 hearths, 5 of them having 5 hearths or more. Most of the old Cottages are Timber-framed buildings with Brick filling, and several are still Thatched.
The oldest seems to be the 16thC Garden Cottage by the River South-east of Drayton Manor Farm, but its neighbour, Little Garden Cottage, or Back Cottage, is not much more recent.
Other Cottages that are particularly worth noting are No.10 Water Lane, the Cottage in the Lane South of the former Rectory, Ford Cottage, White Cottage with its 5 small Dormers which in 1841 was divided into 3, and a little North of it a Cottage with some herringbone Brick infilling. Some, like Waterside House Cottage, now called Red Tile Cottage, have old Tile Roofs.
The Old Rectory (Furlongs), Water Lane, Drayton – which was sold into Private Ownership after WW2, was designed by the Architect John Billing and built in 1862
House. Probably late 17thC. Stone Rubble & Brick Plinth; square-panel Timber-framinq with painted Brick infill; Thatch half-hipped Roof; 2 Brick Stacks to left of centre, Brick Ridge Stack to right. Single Storey & Attic; 4-window Range. Plank Door with open Timber-framed Porch to left of centre. Irregular fenestration of Casements with leaded lights. Swept Dormers to left & right. Gabled Dormer with old plain-Tile surround and Roof to right of centre.
Interior – not inspected.
White Cottage, High Street
House. Probably early 18thC with 20thC addition to right. Painted render to Ground Floor, probably on Timber-framing; large Timber-framing to 1st-Floor centre; Thatch Roof; rebuilt Brick Ridge Stacks to left and right of centre. Single-Storey & Attic; 4-window Range. 20thC glazed door to left. Irregular fenestration of casements and 20thC Bays to Ground Floor. 4 swept Dormers.
Rear: timber framing to ground floor. Interior: open fireplaces to ground floor and chamfered Spine Beams.
The White House, Water Lane, Drayton
Mid-17thC, with early 19thC addition to Front right. Coursed Stone Rubble with Ashlar Stone Dressings to Main Block; coursed Stone Rubble with Brick Dressings to 19thC addition; old plain-tile Roof, hipped above addition; Brick End Stacks. 2-Storeys & Attic; 3-window range. Plank Door to left return of addition. Irregular fenestration of 19thC wood Casements with Brick surrounds. 16-pane unhorned Sashes to addition. Gabled full Dormer to Centre.
Interior: 19thC straight flight Stairs from Ground to 1st-Floor, mid-17thC Winder Staircase from 1st-Floor to Attic. Double Queen-post Roof construction: Brick chamfered arched Fireplaces to 1st Floor and to Ground Floor left. Open Fireplace to Ground Floor right.
Although Timber-frame with Brick filling is the commonest type of structure for the older Cottages there are a few in Stone. With the exception of Waterside House (Red Tile Cottage) and the Old Rectory all the Larger Houses in the Village are, or were formerly Farmhouses. The 2 Farms in the modern Village have houses that were greatly extended in the 19thC. While Drayton Manor Farm is an enlargement of an old but not very distinguished Building, Drayton House Farm is an enlargement of a well-proportioned early-18thC House of which a Chimney Stack and a finely panelled room survive. Between these Farmhouses is a House, now divided in 2, which was formerly called Drayton Farm although it now takes its name, Guys, from a Tenant J H Guy, who Farmed from it in the early part of the 20thC. It is a Timber-framed Brick building on a rubble Base. The White House, also a Farmhouse in the mid-19thC, is Stone-built and consists of a 17thC block with a Wing added in the 18thC.
Ford Cottage, a House South of White House (which has since disappeared) although some of the Farm Buildings have survived, and Manor Cottage (formerly Nutts) were also Farmhouses in 1841. Waterside House (Red Tile House) was in 1841 a Private House and consists of a 16th–17thC House with modern additions. Its South wall is substantially built of Stone but the rest of the old House is Timber-framed with Brick filling. It has fine Stone Fireplaces, probably 17thC, on the Ground & 1st-Floors. Opposite its main Front, there is a large Yew Tree.
The Rectory, now a Private House called ‘Furlongs‘, was built by the Rev A J Williams in 1862 at a cost of more than £1,200 and was later enlarged. There are clear traces of an earlier Building, shown on the Tithe Award Map, but this was not the earlier Curate’s House, which stood on the Road South of the Church.
Lower Grange Farm (Guy’s House)
Mid 15thC, with 17th & 19thC Alterations. Rubble Stone & Brick mixture Plinth; large Timber-framing with rendered infill; old plain-tile Roof; Brick end Stack to left; massive Stone lateral Stack to Rear centre. 2-Storeys & Attic, 6-Bay, 6-window range. 20thC glazed door to 17thC Timber-framed Gabled Porch to centre. Irregular fenestration of late 19thC casements. Raking Dormer of 4-lights to left of centre.
Rear: Plank Door to left of centre. Central lateral Stone Stack of un-coursed squared Stone with Flint Garreting. 9-light wood mullion & transom window to right. Two 4-light wood mullion & transom windows projecting on coved wood Lintels to 1st-Floor left. 19thC basements inserted in remains of 2 similar windows to 1st-Floor right.
Interior: 17thC Open-well Newel Stair from Ground to 1st-Floors with wooden Baluster Balustrade, moulded handrail & turned Acorn Finials to Newels. Straight Flight Stairs from the 1st-Floor to Attic. Arch-braced Collar-truss Roof with 2 rows of Windbraces. Massive open Fireplace to Ground Floor Centre. Stone Tudor-arched Fireplace with Moulded Surround to Ground Floor left. Spine Beams have Angle Bracing.
The oldest and most interesting Secular Structure in the Village is the Barn which is alternatively called the Haseley Barn, because it was formerly owned by the Great Haseley Trustees, and the Tithe Barn, although there is no evidence, other than its age, to support such a Title. It is a Timber-framed, Weather-boarded Building of 6-Bays with a hipped & Tiled Roof which is carried down over Aisles on all 4 sides. This Barn is certainly no later than the 15thC and may have been built towards the end of the 14thC. There are several groups of fine Farm Buildings, some Thatched, the most noteworthy being those of Drayton House Farm, Drayton Manor Farm and the Cart-Shed opposite the White House.
The Barn now houses the Aston Martin Heritage Trust Archives & Museum. In the conversion for this purpose, they have added a Mezzanine Floor, has been inserted at one end to house Offices.
In Holcombe Grange, there are 2 Outlying Farms, and there were Houses on these Sites in 1597. In a Survey of that Year, Lower Grange Farm is called the Site or Capital House of Holcombe Grange. The present House is a Timber-framed Brick building on a Base of Stone & Brick. To the North a very large Stone Chimney projects and either side of this there are fine windows, including one of 18-Lights under a Pent Tile overhang. This House, in many ways the most interesting in the Parish, also has a very good South Porch and a 17thC Staircase. Upper Grange Farm is basically a 17thC Building and has a 17thC Panelled Hall. Until it was recently covered, there was a dated Stone visible bearing the date 1668.
House. Early 17thC with 20thC Alterations. Red Brick to ground floor; close studding to 1st Floor with 19thC Brick infill; old plain-tile double depth Roof; massive Brick end Stack to right. Double-depth Plan. 2-Storey, 3-window Range. 20thC Sash. Door to left. 20thC 4-light Casement to right. 3 eight-pane 20thC horned Sashes to 1st-Floor.
Interior: reported to have 17thC panelled Hall & Staircase.
The Topography of the Village can 1st be studied in the Tithe Award Map of 1841, and thereafter with the aid of Ordnance Survey Maps and the numerous Sale Catalogues, it would be possible to trace in detail most of the changes in the Layout of the Village. Before the 19thC it is not possible to do this. There are occasional mentions of particular Houses, for example, Mr Yates’s House called Pawlings, mentioned in 1574, which cannot now be identified. Nor is it possible to identify the Fields & Lands mentioned in early Deeds & Surveys, although the Tithe Award Map gives many names. Among those which can be traced back is Lower Shilfield Furlong, which is almost certainly the 14thC ‘under schulfull’, and Waterslade which occurs in this form in the 15thC. The Village and its Fields were in the 17th & 18thCs divided into 2 Ends: the Eastern part was Town End, the Western was Farm End. In the Tithe Award the Riverside Meadows above the Village are described as Town End Mead and those below the Village were called Farm End Mead. In the early 17thC the ‘whole Farme End of Drayton‘ was presented for failure to observe the Ancient Custom of Perambulation ((walk around the Manor) and in 17th & 18thC Leases Lands & Houses are often described as being in Town End or Farm End.
There were 2-Public Houses in the Village, the ‘Catherine Wheel‘ and the ‘Three Pigeons‘. In 1841 the only Licensed House was the ‘Catherine Wheel‘, which was then in what is now called Garden Cottage. In 1805 this House was insured as the ‘Catherine Wheel‘. Sometime after 1841 the Licence & Name were transferred to what in 1841 was the Smithy, and this was probably done by William Townsend who in 1847–48 was both Blacksmith & Licensee of the ‘Catherine Wheel‘. The Modern Public House replaced a group of old Cottages as below.
Drayton was not mentioned by name in Domesday Book but formed part of the Bishop of Lincoln’s 90-Hide Estate of Dorchester. The Bishops Sub-infeudated part of Drayton but retained part in Demesne. Throughout the Middle Ages, they treated their Drayton Demesne as part of their Dorchester Manor. In 1547 Drayton was surrendered to the Crown with other Members of this Manor and a Crown Survey of the Manor in 1551 included 31-yardlands in Drayton. The Estate remained part of Dorchester Manor under the Bishops’ Successors. In the 17thC the Courts Baron of Dorchester Manor was attended by Drayton Homagers, and 18thC Surveys of the Dorchester Manor of the Earls of Abingdon included Land in Drayton. At the end of the 18thC and in the 19thC the Abingdon Estate in Drayton was described as Drayton Manor. It followed Dorchester’s Descent and was Purchased in 1876 by Sir John Christopher Willoughby of Baldon. Drayton Manor was sold again in 1916 but thereafter Manorial Rights appear to have lapsed.
A 2nd Manor in Drayton, the later Holcombe Grange, can be traced back to the Holding of the Burcot Family, who were Tenants of 1-Knight’s Fee held of the Bishop of Lincoln in the 12th & 13thCs. Nicholas son of Bartholomew held the Fee in 1201. A Nicholas de Burcot, perhaps the same man, held it in 1212 and either he or a son was Tenant and concerned in Transactions over Drayton Land in the 1220s. Another Nicholas de Burcot, presumably a descendant, was in possession in 1279, when the Fee was described as being in Drayton, Holcombe & Clifton. John de Burcot, his son, succeeded, but by 1346 the Abbot of Dorchester was returned as Tenant of the Fee.
The Abbey had been under-Tenant of most of the Holding in 1279, when it held 4-Virgates in Holcombe & 2-Virgates in Drayton for Scutage, and was under-Tenant of the ½-Fee with 3 others who were to pay Scutage to the Abbot when it was demanded. The Abbey still held the Estate at the time of the Dissolution, when its Property in Holcombe was known as Holcombe Grange Manor. By 1538 the Manor had been Granted to Sir Thomas Pope who used it to endow his Foundation, Trinity College, Oxford. Most of the Estate remained in the possession of Trinity College up to recent times. As Lords of Holcombe Grange Manor the President & Fellows Licensed a Gamekeeper in 1808, and in 1826 their Lessee, Thomas Gilbert White, was described as Lord of the Manor. Later Records make no mention of Manorial Rights. The Farms seem always to have been Leased by the College.
The most important Estate in Drayton apart from the Abingdon Estate was that acquired at the end of the 14thC by Nicholas Drayton (d. by 1402). It was known in the 15thC as Drayton Manor. Nicholas Drayton was either the same as or a close connection of Nicholas le Naper of Drayton who in 1362 acquired the Estate of John Sheepwash in Drayton, Baldon & Clifton. The connection between Nicholas le Naper of Drayton & Nicholas Drayton is supported by the association of both with Sir Hugh Segrave. Nicholas Drayton’s younger son Nicholas succeeded. He had a daughter Elizabeth who married Peter Idle, a Minor Civil Servant. In 1442 Peter Idle & Elizabeth were Granted all the Estates in Drayton that had been possessed by her father Nicholas. This Estate was augmented by Grants from Sir Richard Drayton, John Delabere & others. In 1473 Peter Idle made a Will in which he directed his Trustees to Grant his Property in Drayton to his son William and his heirs with reversions to other children of his. Peter died shortly afterwards and in 1475 his son William Petitioned Chancery that his father’s Will be complied with and that Drayton Manor & Property be Conveyed to him. In November 1475 the Trustees Granted Drayton Manor with all Lands, etc, in Drayton to William with reversions according to the Will. William’s step-mother Anne was provided for in Peter’s Will by an Annuity of 5 Marks payable out of the Estate at Drayton & Dorchester, and she was also to have the use of the Parlour, Chapel, Chambers, and Gardens ‘within my place at Drayton’ until she left them or married. She apparently found employment in the household of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Mistress of the Nursery, and it was perhaps in 1479 that the Duke wrote to William Stonor & Humphrey Forster asking them to see that William Idle & Elizabeth his sister paid the Annuity due to their Stepmother. Peter Idle had an eldest son Thomas, to whom his book of Instructions was addressed, but neither he nor apparently any of his Heirs is mentioned in Peter’s Will. Nevertheless, Thomas’s son Richard claimed, through his grandmother Elizabeth Idle, all the Property in Drayton that had once belonged to Elizabeth’s father, Nicholas (II) Drayton. Apparently, this claim was successful, for in 1481 William Idle aided in person by the Duke of Suffolk used force to eject Richard’s mother Alice. Alice petitioned the King’s Council for redress and a Privy Seal Writ was issued to restore Alice & Richard to Drayton Manor and to see that William Idle appeared before the Council. The outcome of this dispute is unknown, but by 1489 the Manor seems to have been in the hands of Henry Dene of Drayton. In 1501 it was conveyed to John Yate of Charney Basset (Berks) and remained with his Family during the 16thC. This Estate was not treated as a separate Manor in later records, but as part of Dorchester Manor held in Free Socage. In 1530 John Yate settled his Drayton Estate on his wife Alice & younger son Thomas. Thomas (d.1565) was the Founder of the Yate Family of Lyford (Berks.). In the mid-16thC, he was one of the most substantial Tenants in Drayton, paying 60s-6d Rent for his Land held of Dorchester Manor; at his death in 1565 he held 4-Yardlands Copyhold as well as about 200 acres, 9-Yardlands called Drayton Farm, Freehold, which was Leased to Richard Pawling of Drayton. Thomas Yate’s son Francis succeeded him and seems to have lived in Drayton. By 1597, however, Francis’s son Thomas had sold the Farm to a Robert Doyley of Hambleden (Bucks) and George Lazenby of Drayton. They divided the Property in 1597. The Doyley part (4-Yardlands) remained in their hands until the Civil Wars when it was Mortgaged and then sold about 1646. The Property changed hands several times, but finally, about 1651, it was purchased by the Trustees of the Haseley Poor Charity. They continued to Lease it to various Tenants until they sold it after WW2.
Economic & Social History
Drayton’s situation was probably determined by the Ford which must have been a convenient crossing of the River Thame, especially before the River was Bridged at Dorchester. Its name implies something to do with communications and may mean ‘the tun where things can be dragged across the River’. It was originally a subsidiary Settlement of Dorchester and in Domesday Book was treated as part of the Bishop of Lincoln’s Dorchester Manor. Drayton is 1st mentioned by name in 1146 as a Chapelry of Dorchester.
The main Medieval Estate in Drayton belonged to the Bishop of Lincoln’s Dorchester Manor. The 1st detailed information about it is in a Survey made in the 2nd Quarter of the 13thC. The Bishop’s Manor then included 23-Virgates in Drayton that were held by 18-Villeins. Each Virgate rendered 5s-6d to the bishop in lieu of Week-work, the other Services owed being the same as those due from the Chislehampton Virgaters. In addition to these Services which were general throughout the Manor most Virgaters at Drayton had to Plough an Acre of Land, this Service being called Grascherch. This account may be compared with a mutilated Survey of 1279 which shows that the Bishop’s Manor then had 14-Villein Tenants holding between them 22-Virgates. In the earlier Survey 5-Villeins held 2-Virgates each while in 1279 there were 8 holding 2-Virgates each. The Services due from each Virgate in 1279 are described, and there seems to have been no great change since the earlier, more detailed, Survey. Each Virgater had to Plough 2-Acres of the Bishop’s Demesne and at the critical times of the year, haymaking & harvest had to work for 2½ days on the Bishop’s Land at his own expense and 2 days with food provided by the Bishop. He had also to Cart Hay & Corn as long as necessary and when required had to Cart Corn to Market. No mention is made of a Money Rent but this must be a mistake: the commuted week-works had not been reimposed. The Virgaters were not Freemen: they were unable to arrange the marriage of their daughters or sell their beasts without the Bishop’s consent. The earlier Survey does not mention Free Tenants, but in 1279 4 Tenants, holding 9 Virgates between them, claimed that their Ancestors had been Free Sokemen, serving the King in War for 40 days, but that the Bishops had withdrawn this Service. They owed light Boon-dues and Ploughed 2-Acres if they had a whole Plough. They carried the Bishop’s Letters for one day at their own expense and afterwards at the Bishop’s. They had also to attend Dorchester Hundred Court. One of them, Walter son of Thomas, held 4-Virgates and was evidently a prosperous man with a Shepherd and with under-Tenants. A 5th Free Tenant held a Messuage and 1½-Virgates for 7s and Suit at the Hundred Court. Both Surveys mention a Cottager who owed 4s a year for a Fishery in the Thame.
The Estate of the Bishop’s Knight Nicholas de Burcot was also described. His 7½-Virgates were held by under-Tenants. The Abbot of Dorchester was the most important of these, as in the other Villages to which the De Burcots’ Fee extended. The Abbot held Holcombe Grange (4 Virgates), and several Virgates in Drayton proper. Apart from the Abbey the most noteworthy Tenants of Nicholas de Burcot’s Fee were Luke le Naper & Robert Sheepwash, the Descendants of whom were prominent among the Tenants of the 14thC. In 1327, when the total assessment of Drayton was £4-0s-10d., 25 people contributed, 10 of whom were assessed at 4s or more, including John Sheepwash & Nicholas le Naper. The most conspicuous of the Taxpayers of 1327 was, however, John le Wise whose assessment was 15s. He was probably a descendant of that Richard Wise who appears in both the 13thC Surveys as a Virgater on the Bishop’s Manor.
Neither 13thC Survey described the Bishop’s Demesne in Drayton specifically, but it is clear from the Services owed that there must have been a Demesne and that its routine cultivation must have been by hired Labour. The only known Survey of the Demesne of this Manor was made in 1348, when the Bishop’s Dorchester Manor, treated as a unit throughout the whole Hundred, was described. Very few of the Furlongs recorded can now be identified, but at least 2 were in Drayton, 14-acres in the Hurst, and 30-acres in Waterslade Furlong. The Hurst Meadow appears in the 1808 Fettiplace Great Sale Catalogue and is described as being in the occupation of Vincent Cherrill. The Cherrill Family were closely linked with the Hurst in Dorchester. The Drayton St Leonard Hurst is situated in an arc of the River Thame, close to a potential former Mill Site. Part of this Meadow was still known as the Hurst in the 1841 Tithe Award, but the name appears to have passed out of use by the end of the 19thC.
There is little evidence for the later Middle Ages, but various Surveys, made when Drayton passed out of Ecclesiastical hands, throw light on 16thC conditions. In 1536 the Abbey’s Drayton Lands were held by only 2 or 3 Tenants, the largest holding being in the hands of Richard Molyneux who paid £3 2s Rent a year. The Abbey held 173-acres in Holcombe in Demesne, and these had clearly been inclosed in the Middle Ages for Sheep-farming. In 1536 it was stated that 160-acres there were ‘partly grown with thorns and fursens’. Holcombe Grange was then valued at £7-8s-8d. a year, but after the Dissolution the King’s Lessee paid £8-0s-3d. In 1597, when it was in the possession of Trinity College, it was divided into Upper & Lower Grange Farms and these 2 Farmhouses were the only ones there.
The Bishop’s former Manor was Surveyed in 1551, when it was held by the Crown. There were 11 Customary Tenants, 9 of whom held 21-Virgates. One of the others, Thomas Spyer, seems to have held little Land although his Rent, 10s- 10d was about the sum due for a Virgate. The remaining Customary Tenant was Thomas Yate, the size of whose Holding is not given although his Rent was 60s-6d. The total Rental from the Customary Tenants was £16-5s-10d. plus a 4d Fine paid by the Tenant of 4-Virgates for Licence to Sublet. Thus the Drayton Estate constituted a fair proportion of the total Rental of Dorchester Manor, which was £76-3s-10d. plus an increment of 60s-6d.
The Survey of 1551 listed in detail the Timber on the Manor: 424 trees on the Drayton Estate; it also described the Pasture Rights: each of the 31-yardlands was entitled to graze 30 sheep, 2 beasts & 2 horses.
The prosperity of the Drayton Farmer in the 16thC is indicated by the returns for the Subsidies: 16 Taxpayers contributed in 1523. In 1577 the Total Contribution was almost as great as that of Dorchester itself and 2 Farmers paid on £13 & £19 worth of goods. Richard Pawling, one of these, Farmed the 13-Virgates of the Yates’ Drayton Farm, much of it still Open-field Land. Shortly after 1565 he had complained that the Steward of the Queen’s Manor, Leonard Parret, who was also a Tenant of the Manor, was overcharging the Land with sheep and had so tainted the ground that the previous Winter he, Pawling, had lost 9 sheep. Pawling added that Parret as Steward was Judge in his own Cause and ‘yet utterly unlearned in the Laws of the Realm’.
Several Court Books of the Dorchester Manor in Drayton for the 17th and early 18thCs have been preserved which reveal a little of the working & customs of the Manor. Separate Orders were made for the 2 ends, Farm & Town, of Drayton, and although most Orders were concerning the Scouring of Watercourses, there are also regulations about the Ringing of hogs & pigs, Surcharging the Common, and making Mounds in the Fields. In 1691 the Staking of Horses on Broad Green before Whitsun was prohibited, as was the Penning of sheep on the Wheat Field after 20th October in 1704. In 1693 the digging of Gravel at Church End was prohibited. The Court Books also throw a little light on the various Freeholds in the Manor, no doubt deriving from the Estates of Dorchester Abbey & the Yate Family. In 1641, for example, John Wise died Seized of 3 Messuages of the Norreys Manor & 2 Messuages Freehold. The 1665 Hearth-tax Return shows that John Wise, assessed on 6-Hearths, had one of the largest Farmhouses in the Village. In that year 10 out of 16 Householders paid Tax on Houses with 6 to 7 Hearths.
Evidence in the 18thC for the Drayton Estate of Dorchester Manor is plentiful. It was then held by Tenants of the Earl of Abingdon. In 1728 the Earl had 10 Tenants in Drayton, excluding one Holding of 2-acres, and between them, they held 729 acres. The largest Holding was that of Henry Wise, 8½-yardlands (171 acres), but there were 3 other Tenants holding 111 acres, 122 acres & 98 acres respectively. Of the remainder 3 held 40 acres or more, and 3 held less than 30 acres. This may be compared with a Survey of 1785. In this, the Earl’s Estate in Drayton only measured 559 acres, the reduction of 170 acres since 1728 apparently being due to the loss of the Lands held then by Henry Wise, whose descendants certainly held about 130 acres Freehold in the 19thC. In 1785 the Earl had 7 Tenants in Drayton. The largest Holdings were 151 acres & 131 acres. The 2 smaller Holdings of 1728 (10 cars & 29 acres) remained intact, but the others were amalgamated so that the remaining 3 Holdings were between 74 & 84 acres. The total Rental for the Earl’s Land in Drayton was £555, the Valuation being 16s an acre for Arable and 35s. an acre for Meadow. In 1728 the Surveyor reported that the Land was good and that the method of Husbandry was 2 Crops to a Fallow and that they wanted nothing so much as rest by being laid down to grass for a Season. The Meadowland was said to be very good and usually let for 30s to 40s an acre.
Detailed Valuation for Tithes was made of the whole Parish, apart from Holcombe Grange, in 1799 by Richard Davis of Lewknor. He reported that the Parish was rated at 44-yardlands, 24 at Town End, 20 at Farm End, but that the area of each was about equal, the size of the Lands being slightly larger at Farm End. The Course of Husbandry was then 3 Crops to a Fallow, namely wheat, beans, barley & fallow. The Arable of Town End was then divided into 4 ‘Seasons’, but retained the same names as when formerly divided into 3 ‘Seasons’, the total measuring 461 Field acres. Farm End measured 470 Field acres. Davis remarked that the Furlongs were short and estimated the area as 620 statute acres. The greater part of Drayton Meadow was Titheable to Dorchester Parish, the other part to Mrs Ann Ford, but the Afterfeed belonged to Drayton Parish. He measured it as totalling 30 Field acres (25 Statute) of which 24 were in Town End Mead. Stint of common was then 1½ cows & 30 sheep to each yardland but less than half that quantity were then kept. The Cow Commons were Let at Town End for 15s each, and at Farm End for 10s. each. The sheep were chiefly Wether Flocks. The Tenant of the Tithes provided 2 Bulls for the use of the Parish, one for each End. The old Inclosures contained about 36 acres of which 16 were Arable. His Valuation was based on the following Crop Acreages: wheat 155, beans 155, barley 100, oats 55, clover in Fallow Field 40, and Open-field Meadow 25 acres. An average of 120 lambs was bred, 200 sheep sheared, and 30 cows kept. A survey of Tithes made in 1812 estimated the Common Field as 744 acres and recorded that the Holdings of the 4 main Tenants ranged in size from 100 to 216 acres. By this time Holcombe Grange was divided into 2 Farms according to a Survey made in 1768, although in 1750 the Estate had been divided into 3 Farms. A Map & Survey of 1767 shows that Upper Grange Farm was 189 acres, Lower Grange Farm 96 acres. Almost the whole was Meadow & Pasture; only 12 acres of Upper Grange farm in 1768 were Tillage, although 50 years previously there had been more. The Stock in 1768 on both Farms consisted entirely of fatting sheep & milch cows for butter. In 1811 43 Cows were milked on the 2 Farms; the Butter made was sent to Wallingford Market. Generally the Grange seems to have been Leased: in 1680 to Mary Spyer, Widow; in 1700 to Richard Jones, Lessee for over 40 years; and in 1777 to George White of Newington. A Mr White was still Lessee in 1816 & 1826.
Drayton continued to be Farmed by 5 or 6 Farmers during the 1st part of the 19thC. In 1785 there were 21 Land Proprietors & 20 Occupiers & Owner-occupiers in the Parish. The 2 largest Farms, one of them Holcombe Upper Grange Farm, were each assessed for about a quarter of the total Tax. Six other Farms had more moderate assessments of between £4 & £11. Other Inhabitants Owned or Occupied Premises assessed at under £1. By 1816 several Farmers had taken over other Property and most of the Land was in the hands of 6 Farmers. By 1832 there were 4 Chief Farmers. In 1841 they had Farms of 360 acres (i.e. Upper Grange Farm), 221 acres, 219 acres & 217 acres. By 1851 there were only 3 Farmers of consequence: Henry Betteridge Farmed 350 acres and employed 31 Labourers, Abraham Dean Farmed 250 acres with 19 Labourers, and John Smith of Holcombe Grange Farmed 600 acres with 35 Labourers. The main Landowners over this Period were the Earl of Abingdon & Trinity College. In 1844 the Drayton Estate of the Earl of Abingdon comprised some 541 acres. Over half was held on Grants for Lives or Leases and brought in only £4-14s-8d. a year; the rest was held on a yearly basis, at Rents amounting to £356 18s. Much improvement was anticipated from Inclosure.
The Haseley Trust and the Betteridge & Wise Families Owned smaller areas of 60 to 120 acres in Drayton. Shortly after Inclosure in 1861, Henry Betteridge Purchased the Wise Estate thus bringing to an end their long history as Landholders in Drayton. It also marked a significant stage in the growth of one of the main Estates in 19thC Drayton. In 1875, when the Abingdon Estate was finally offered for Sale, Henry Betteridge Farmed 260 acres as Tenant as well as having extensive Freehold which when offered for Sale in 1901 totalled 372 acres.
The Parish to the North of the River Thame remained Open-field Land up to the 2nd half of the 19thC. At the time of the Tithe Award in 1841 2/3rds (825 acres) of the Parish was Arable and just under a 3rd, much of it incorporated in Upper & Lower Grange Farms was Meadow & Pasture. There were 7 acres of Orchards & Osier Beds and 37 acres of Common. There were then 7-Fields; one of which, East Field, had been mentioned in the 17thC, while West Field was the old Town End division. The Meadowland along the Thame was divided into Lots; Woodford Mead, as it was called, was shared by the neighbouring Parishes of Ewelme, Benson, and Berrick and Dorchester had Lots farther East. The Common was distributed throughout the Parish, but in 1841 it was said to be Privately owned by the Earl of Abingdon.
Osier is a loose term covering a number of species of Willow (Salix), which can be Coppiced. Traditionally, most Lowland Villages had Osier Beds, the Harvest of which would be used for making Basket-work, Eel Traps, Thatching Spars, Firewood & Fencing. Although they are often associated with Rivers & Meadows, Osiers in fact grow best on well drained land, although they will not tolerate extremely dry conditions. Is it possible the current shape of the Straw Splitter was inspired by the commonly used Osier Splitters that are used for Willow in Basketry. Perhaps these Osier Splitters inspired what would become splitters for Straw rather than Willows.
The Willow for Basket-making is harvested annually, usually during the Winter months before the sap starts to rise in the Spring. The Osiers are cut using a heavy-backed Sickle
Hook, and an experienced Cutter can harvest up to 40–50 bundles per day. As the demand for fruit grew throughout the 2nd half of the 19thC, so too did the demand for Willow Baskets to Store & Transport it. Osiers need to be planted in January or February in well cleared land in trenches up to 20-ins deep and 12-ins apart and can grow anything up to 18ins a week in Season. There is no Covert which Pheasants like so much as Osier-beds, especially if they are near water.
In 1861 the whole Parish was finally Inclosed. As Lord of the Manor,the Earl of Abingdon received just under 1½ acres, equivalent to 1/16th of the Waste. He also received the largest Allotment of about 578 acres. Three Allottees received between 80 & 120 acres; the 6 others received only 1 or 2 acres.
No precise information about Drayton’s Population is available before the 19thC. In 1676 an Adult Population of 128 was recorded by the Compton Census; in 1811 & 1851 there were 287 & 327 persons. After 1861 the Population underwent the decline usually found in Oxfordshire Parishes, and by 1901 there were 241 Inhabitants. This trend continued in the early 20thC, but by 1951 numbers had risen from the 219 recorded in 1931, to 314 persons.
No Parish Records have survived apart from some Churchwardens’ Accounts for 1641-81. The only information that has been found about Parish Government concerns expenditure on the Poor. The Poor Rate trebled over the years 1776 to 1803, rising from £70 to £220, but the Rate in 1803 was still slightly below the County average of 4s-8d. In 1803 there were 12 adults & 18 children who were permanently maintained by the Rates; 23 Persons received occasional relief. By 1835 expenditure on the Poor had reached £342.
Drayton’s Main Business is and always has been Agriculture, the cultivation of the Plain it shares with Dorchester. In 1914 over 24% of the Crops were wheat and 21% barley. The soil was said to be easily worked but incapable of withstanding drought. Sheep were a good counter-balance to this type of soil, and there were 60 sheep and over per 100 acres in 1909 and over 40 sheep per 100 acres in 1914. Permanent Pasture over the whole Parish was under 30%. Most of it was in Holcombe: in 1931 253 acres of Upper Grange Farm were Pasture. In 1959 this Farm (275 acres) was still mostly laid down to Pasture. Drayton North of the River was farmed in 2 Units: one consisting of the Henry Betteridge Estate together with the Haseley Trust land was a large-scale Market Garden, farmed from Drayton House Farm, the other, Drayton Manor Farm, was part of a larger Farm, 1,200 acres, belonging to Mr S J Farrant, and was reminiscent of the Medieval History of the Parish in that it stretched well beyond the Bounds of Drayton Parish into Burcot & Dorchester, and mainly concentrated on Arable Farming.
Drayton Church is 1st mentioned in 1146 as a Chapel in a list of the Possessions of Dorchester Abbey. It was probably one of the Chapels appropriated to the Abbey which in 1445 were Served by its Canons, and this is likely to have been the normal arrangement. The Chapelry was in Dorchester Peculiar. After the Dissolution, the Rectory & ‘Advowson‘ of Drayton were Granted to the Dean & Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, and they still hold the gift of the Living, which was a Perpetual Curacy until 1870, when the Tithes were made over to the Incumbent. In the late 16thC the Curate of Drayton seems generally also to have served Clifton Hampden and since 1950 Drayton has been held in Plurality with Stadhampton & Chislehampton.
In 1526 the Curate’s Annual Stipend, paid by Dorchester Abbey, was £5-6s-8d. and in 1826 this remained the certain annual sum paid by the Dean & Chapter to the Curate. In the early 18thC this payment seems to have been made up to £16 a year and later to £20. By 1778 the Dean & Chapter also paid the Curate a further £10 a year under the terms of Dr South’s Will. The Living was augmented by the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty in 1747 & 1758 by £200 so that, in 1778 the Curate’s annual income was £47, including Fees which amounted then as in 1826 to about £1. In 1801 an Estate of 23 acres at Tetsworth was purchased for £900. It yielded varying sums, £29 in 1803, £40 in 1804, £26 in 1831, until in 1876 it was exchanged for £64-16.
In 1826 the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty further augmented the living by a Grant of £600 which, together with £200 given by the Dean & Chapter and a similar sum given by the Curate himself, yielded an annual income that raised the value of the Living in 1831 to just under £90. In 1865 there was a further Augmentation obtained ‘not without difficulty’.
In 1535 Drayton Chapel was valued at £11 a year and this remained the valuation of the Parsonage until at least the beginning of the 18thC. In the 17thC, the Lessee of the Tithes paid £7-6s-8d of this in cash, the remainder in-kind and although the annual cash payment increased at times in the 19thC to as much as £50 the terms of the render in kind remained unchanged. Apart from this Payment the Lessee of the Parsonage after 1631 also paid the Curate’s Stipend. This may have been the case earlier and certainly in 1553 he was required to provide bread, wine & wax for the Celebrant and to find ‘sufficient and honest mansmeate and horsemeate to every preacher coming thither’. The Rectory consisted of Tithes great & small from the Parish North of the River, and an annual Rent of 10s. This Rent can be traced back to 1552, when the Dean & Chapter had a dispute with Edmund Ashfield over the 1st Crop from 7½ acres of the Lotte Meades which they claimed should belong to Drayton Rectory. It was agreed that Ashfield should have the Crop but should pay the Dean & Chapter 10s a year or 2-loads of Hay. Thus in 1553 and in 1855 the Rectory included this annual Payment. In 1799 the Rectory was valued at £285-2s-4d and the Valuations of 1824 & 1834 were almost the same. In 1840 it was £340. In 1552 the Rectory was Leased to Richard Pawling and it remained in the Pawling Family until the early 18thC. At the end of the 18thC it was held by Edward Tawney and in 1820 by Richard Tawney of Willoughby (Warks.). In 1840 the Tithes were Commuted and apportionment was altered after the Inclosure Award of 1861. From the 16thC the Tithes of Holcombe Grange were held by the Freeholders, Trinity College, Oxford.
Until the 19thC Curates seem generally to have been non-resident, although it is probable that John Dunt who was Curate from 1625 to 1675 lived in the Minister’s Cottage mentioned in 1641. This Cottage may have been the same as the ‘Parson House, next to the Churchyard’, mentioned in 1778 as having been in the possession of the Parish Officers who put the Poor in it. During the 18thC the Church was Served for 2 or 3 years at a time by Students of Christ Church who travelled out on Sundays and therefore had no need of a Residence. The most famous of these was Phineas Pett, Curate from 1787–90. In 1784 the Dean & Chapter bought a small Cottage for the Curate’s use on Sundays. In 1814 the Curate again resided, and this Cottage was enlarged in 1830 in a makeshift manner at a cost of £325. In 1858 A J Williams, the Curate in whose Incumbency the extensive Restoration of the Church was carried out, appealed to the Dean & Chapter for Funds to build a new Parsonage House on an acre of Land given by the Earl of Abingdon. This House was built in 1862 at a cost of over £1,200 and was enlarged in 1872. As the Church has been held in Plurality with Stadhampton since 1950 the Rectory has been Sold.
In 1778 the Curate reported to the Dean & Chapter that the Churchyard was let for 30s a year which was claimed by the Churchwardens for the repair of the Church. According to him,no one had been buried in the Churchyard until about 40-yrs previously: Parishioners were buried in Dorchester. This may not be strictly true because there are some Gravestones in the Churchyard dated before 1738, but it is not unlikely that at an earlier time Drayton had no Burial Ground of its own. The same Curate also reported that some Land had been Let for the repair of the Church and this was probably the 2 acres held by the Churchwardens in 1841. In the early 17thC there seems to have been an old Custom of Perambulation or Procession about which we know because of failures to observe it.
The Church, dedicated to St Leonard, is a small Stone building, comprising a Chancel, Nave & North Chapel, with a wooden South Porch and a wooden Belfry standing at the West end of the Nave. The now partly roughcast Roof is covered with Tiles and the Upper Walls of the Belfry with wooden Shingles. The earliest part of the Church is the Nave with several 12thC features, including the Norman Doorways in the North & South Walls and the traces at the Eastern end of the Nave in both the North & South Walls of windows that have been blocked. In the 13thC the West & North-west windows of the Nave were made and the small Side Chapel added at the North-east end. The Chapel has a fine, plain, round Early English Pier and 2 unequal openings in the Nave Wall. A slightly pointed Arch leads to the Chancel which seems, judging from the position of the windows, originally to have been lower than the Nave, a feature destroyed in the 19thC restoration. The Tower is a fine timber structure probably earlier than the 16thC: the Church certainly had 3-Bells in 1552. The Belfry is separated from the Nave by 18thC Oak panelling.
In the 16thC, the South-west window of the Chancel and the South-east window of the Nave were altered to admit more light. In 1629 the Church & Tower were reported to be out of repair and subsequently a certain Simon Broadwater was repeatedly presented for not having carried out repairs. Towards the end of that Century the condition of the fabric seems to have been fairly good, but in 1721 the Roof & Windows were ‘a little out of repair’, and although there are no detailed descriptions of or reports on the condition of the Church during the 18thC, it seems likely that the succession of non-resident Curates paid insufficient attention to it. In 1817 the Chancel was reported to be out of repair, in 1823 the Roof, in 1828 2 of the 3 Bells were cracked and by 1859 the whole of the Church was in very bad condition. The windows of the Chancel had had their Tracery removed to simplify glazing, the Roof was in a bad state and the Plaster Ceiling was ready to fall. As a result of a report made in that year by Edward Bruton, the restoration was undertaken in 1859 by G E Street and was completed at a cost of £600. The Chancel was partially rebuilt. Its ‘common Brick Floor’ was raised. The Plaster Ceiling was removed and the present high-pitched Roof made in place of the old Roof, the line of which can still be seen over the Chancel Arch. The extra weight of this Roof and the increased height of the East Wall made the angle Buttresses at the East end necessary. The Tracery of the East window was inserted from new designs, only the Mullions being original, and the South-west window was completely renewed. In the Nave,the Ceiling and a Western Gallery were removed.
This restoration destroyed many features of interest. Apart from those already mentioned, the Eastern Gable of the Nave apparently had a Sanctus Bell Turret on which was a Sundial, and the Roof of the Chancel had an overhanging Barge at the East end. A high wooden Pulpit was replaced by a Stone one which was itself replaced in 1898 by the present brightly coloured wooden one, designed by the Wareham Guild. The Seating was completely altered; the new Seating was said to be modelled on an old Seat still existing in the Church. It was intended that the restoration should have been even more drastic, for it was proposed to replace the wooden Bell Tower with a Stone structure thus providing more Seating space. Fortunately,nothing came of this proposal although it was revived later. Alterations were, however, made to the Tower in 1884 when Bruton reported that it was in need of repair. It was strengthened, its Walls were covered with Shingles, and a Clock was inserted.
In 1930 the Chancel Floor, raised in 1859 so that there were 2 steps from the Nave into the Chancel, was lowered by volunteer Labour to its present position of 1-step at the Chancel Arch and a 2nd at the Altar. At the same time the Altar which had been placed against the East wall in 1859 was moved forward into the Chancel; the Chancel Rails were also moved and the Choir Stalls were rearranged; the Sacristy was built in 1932 also by volunteer Labour and in accordance with the Plans of Mr Geoffrey Webb. Electric light was installed in about 1934.
The only Medieval Glass is in the North Chancel window, which is a restoration of a window believed to represent St Leonard of Noblac. It has been stated that this window was only discovered in the restoration, but the Glass was certainly known in 1846. There is now no trace of the Arms mentioned by Lee in 1574. Windows designed by Bucknall & Comper were placed in the East window and in the South-east window of the Nave in 1894.
There are Memorial Tablets to Abraham Deane (d.1809), William Deane (d.1846), J H R. Mate (d.1928), H S Milford (d.1952), and to Aston Swindale, MD (d.1952). On the exterior of the South Wall of the Church there are 4-19thC Memorials to members of the Deane & Jackson Families. Apart from the former Sundial on the East Gable of the Nave there are 5 Scratch Dials on the South-east wall of the Nave and one on the left of the South Door which must antedate the Porch.
There were 3-Bells in 1552. They were recast in 1884 and another 3 added. The oldest Bell is the former Tenor of c.1470 and inscribed Sancta Katerina ora pro nobis. The predecessors of the 2 other Bells were dated 1603 & 1635.
The Elizabethan Chalice & Paten Cover are dated 1575. There is also a large Silver Paten (Hallmarked 1694) and a Pewter Flagon. At the Reformation the Church possessed 2 Chalices with Patens ‘Parcell Gylte’, 2 Corporal Cases, 2 Candlesticks, and a number of Vestments & Altar Clothes. The Registers begin in 1568 and there is a Churchwardens’ Account Book for 1641–81
There is no certain record of Roman Catholicism. After the Restoration, there was a group of under 10 Nonconformists in the Parish. From 1663 until 1686 there was a steady stream of Presentments for non-attendance at Church and 6 nonconformists were recorded in 1676 in the Compton Census. Their Leader was evidently William Lovegrove, Tobacco Merchant. He was Presented in 1678 for holding a Conventicle at his House once every month, and although in 1680 he denied this he was again presented in 1681 for the same Offence.
In 1808 the Incumbent reported that there were in Drayton ‘a few Methodists visited once a fortnight by a Teacher from Oxford at the House of a small Farmer in the Village’, and by 1816 Drayton was on the Oxford Methodist circuit. In 1834 there were said to be only 2 Families of Dissenters. By 1851 there was a Methodist Chapel, said to have been built in 1814; although it only had about 12 members, almost the whole of the ‘Labouring Population’ went to some evening Services there. In 1879 the present (1958) Methodist Chapel was built on Land that had belonged to a Drayton Grocer & Baker. He was one of the 4 local Trustees, the others being Labourers. In 1906 the Chapel, which is on the Thame & Watlington circuit, was registered for Marriages.
The 1st record of any School in Drayton is in 1808, when there was a Dame School with 6-children and a Day School where 25 children were taught reading, the Testament, the Catechism & Sewing. In 1810 2 Sunday Schools were started with 21 boys & 16 girls and 5-yrs later 29 children were being educated in 3 Day Schools. Nevertheless, in 1818 it was reported that there were no Schools in Drayton although the Poorer Classes were ‘desirous of the means of education‘. By 1833 the Wesleyans had a Sunday School with 46 children, held in their Chapel. There was also a Day School with 20 boys & girls, which was supported by their Parents. The Vicar and other voluntary subscribers were supporting this School in 1854 when there were 35 pupils.
The National School was built next to the Rectory in 1855. The Poor Law Guardians gave the Land & Premises to Drayton’s Minister, Churchwardens & Overseers in 1858 in Trust for the Education of ‘the Labouring, Manufacturing and other Poorer Classes in Drayton’. The School had an average attendance of about 40 children until 1906. In 1925 it became a Junior School for children under the age of 11 and the Seniors bicycled to Dorchester. There was an attendance of 28 in 1943, but in 1947 the School was closed and the Juniors have since gone to School at Benson and the Seniors to Dorchester.
Mary Spyer by Will, in 1697, left a Rent-charge of £5 on her Estate in Huntercombe for the Apprenticing of a boy or girl from this Parish. The Charity Commissioners in about 1823 reported that for the last 16 or 17 years no Application had been made for Benefit from this Charity, though the Owners of the Estate did not deny liability to pay the money. The Charity was later Lost.
RAF Mount Farm
Originally a Grass Airfield Satellite for the RAF Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at nearby RAF Benson, Mount Farm was built in 1940-1941. It had 3 Concrete Runways, 49 Dispersals (24 Concrete Pan Type plus 25 PSP Squares), and 8 Blister Hangars. The 13th Photographic Squadron of the 8th USAAF moved in during February 1943, and its Parent 7th Photographic Group was established at Mount Farm in July 1943. Handed back to the RAF in May 1945, the Station was inactive and used temporarily by the Ministry of Supply for ex-War Department Vehicle Sales. The return to Agriculture began in 1949 and the Airfield was sold for Farming in 1957. Part of the Site was then bought for Gravel extraction in 1961, and most of the Concrete was lifted for Hardcore. During 1960-62, the New Village of Berinsfield was built on the Western end of the Site, where RAF & USAAF Wartime Buildings had been located.
Herbert William Parry, Sergeant 1181625 19th June 1941 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Aged 19-yrs, Parry was Flying at Night in a Wellington Bomber practising Circuits & Landings. His Aircraft Overshot the Runway at RAF Mount Farm Aerodrome, near Dorchester, Oxfordshire & Crashed at Drayton St Leonard, with the Loss of the entire Crew. Sgt Parry was from Isleworth and was Based on No.12 OTU from RAF Benson and his fellow Crew were: Sgt Kenneth Turner Mitchell, from Falkirk; Sgt Howard Ursell from Hampton Middlesex & Sgt Leslie Owen Hodnett from Stourbridge.
Mount Farm – Originally intended to be named Dorchester, Mount Farm was identified as a suitable Satellite Site for RAF Benson, but with hard Runways. It was used by Fairey Battles of 12 OTU from July 1940, before Completion and the Rnways were not completed until November. The Battles gave way to Vickers Wellington Bombers in December and with Benson waterlogged Mount Farm was busy. It was bombed in January & May 1941 and in July, as Benson had dried out, it became a Satellite of Harwell and was used by 15 OTU Wellingtons returning to Benson’s care in January 1942. With the increase in PR activity at Benson 140 Sqn moved in for a time, during which it undertook Reconnaissance for the Dieppe Landings in May 1942. In February 1943 the Americans moved in with the 1st of 4 Squadrons of Lightning & Spitfire Reconnaissance Aircraft for the 7th PR Group and several light Types to transfer Films to their customers. The Units were heavily occupied in the lead in to D-Day and subsequent actions but left for RAF Chalgrove in April 1945. The RAF then stored surplus Vehicles for a time but the Airfield reverted to Agriculture and subsequently Gravel Extraction.