Dorchester Social & Economic History

Based on Richard Davis’s Map (1797) & the Tithe Award & Maps of Overy (1840) & Dorchester (1847).

Dorchester’s Fields have been occupied from Neolithic times and although many of the Prehistoric Sites have been excavated, many are only known by Aerial photography. Among the more important discoveries made in recent years are an extensive Neolithic complex between the Abingdon & Oxford roads and an early Iron Age Site in the same area.


Domesday Book shows that at the end of the Saxon Period Dorchester was the Chief of a group of Estates in this part of Oxfordshire which stood in a special relationship to the Town and which supported the Bishop and his Household.  The Town had lost much of its former importance by the time of the Norman Conquest and lost more when the Bishopric was removed to Lincoln.  It retained, however, its position as the centre of the Bishop’s neighbouring Estates.  In 1086 the Bishop held 59¾ hides on these Estates while his Knights had 30¼ hides.  None of his Knights was Enfeoffed in Dorchester itself, which was said in 1086 to be entirely in the Bishop’s own hands.  There was a Home Farm which had land for 4 Ploughs and the rest of the Land was in the hands of the Bishop’s Peasants, 34 Villani and 22 Bordars.  The Bishop was himself said to have only 3 Ploughs and his Tenants had 15 Ploughs between them.  Some of the English Freemen who held of the Land of Dorchester may have held in Dorchester itself but the Survey does not make this point clear.  The Estate had almost doubled its pre-Conquest value of £18 and was worth £30 in 1086, together with a number of Assets not included in this estimate: the Mill rendered 20s, the Fisherman paid 30 sticks of Eels and a ½-hide of land brought in 12s Meadow-land was worth 40s a year and there was Underwood 6 furlongs by 3.  There is no mention in Domesday of the Estate of the Dorchester Church, the later Abbey, which Bishop Remigius (1072–92) gave the Canons on the Transference of the See.  These lands were described in Charters of 1146 & 1163 as the Land once held by Hunfredus the Priest, i.e. the later Humfrey’s Mede, Brademera with its Meadow & Pasture, the Curtilage & Croft which had belonged to Hunfredus the Priest, 10 Bordars, the Episcopal Houses and whatever was within the Wall.  Outside the Wall they were Granted the land between it and the Road going to the House of a certain Dunning, the whole Circuit (ambitus) of the Episcopal Granges and the Croft beyond them, the Garden & Furlong beyond it that stretched to Queensford Mill & comprised 100 acres, and the Meadow bordering the River by this same land and ‘Suiftlac‘ Meadow on the other side. Most of the Meadow & Pasture, in fact, belonged to the 2 Mills which were also Granted.  The one was undoubtedly Overy Mill, described as to the East over the Bridge on the Thame. The other, called Cudicah in 1163, was described as on the Thames.

Dorchester’s importance as a Demesne Manor is clearly shown in a Survey of the Bishop’s Estates of the 2nd Quarter of the 13thC.  Not only did the Bishop frequently visit the Township, but he maintained a Demesne Farm which was expected to provide for his needs in Residence and also supplied produce for him at his other Manors.  A certain amount was evidently sold, for his Tenants had to carry Grain to Oxford & Wallingford where it was taken on by Boat to London.  His Demesne Land in the whole Hundred of Dorchester was 5 Carucates, but it is not stated how much lay in Dorchester itself.  He must have had a fair-sized Farm there for 8 of his Dorchester Tenants were required to act as Ploughmen, which would mean that he had at least 4 Plough-teams.  Small parcels of the Demesne Meadow & Pasture were let out to Tenants, but no large-scale Leasing of the Demesne was recorded.  The list of Labour-Services shows that the Farm was expected to produce a good quantity of Grain and that a number of Sheep & Pigs were kept on it and neighbouring Manors.

The Tenants’ Rents & Dues were organised around the needs of the Home Farm.  Only 4 were Free Tenants, who together held about 2 hides.  One, Geoffrey de Verley, held 1 hide, which, however, the Jurors claimed had been Customary Land in the time of Bishop Robert de Chesney (1148–83). ) The rest of the Bishop’s Tenants were Unfree, holding in all about 31 Virgates.  All paid merchet, heriot, leirwite, an entry Fine for their Land, & Aid.  Working Virgaters owed Pannage & ‘Tolsest’, 5 hens at Christmas, and 6d Rent; Cottars & Groups of carucarii (ploughmen) and ‘Gavelmen’ owed the same Dues except for the Rent.  These Dues and the whole organisation of Rents & Labour Services indicate that the Agricultural System at Dorchester was of considerable Antiquity.  The Virgate was the standard Holding for about half the Tenants, while the Cottars held an acre each. Most Tenants were expected to attend the Autumn Boons, but some were completely Free of Week-work and the more arduous Services; others were still liable although arrangements existed for them to pay Rent if the Bishop did not need their Services. Thirteen Villeins had no Week-work but paid Rent at about 5s 6d a Virgate and did Ploughing & Harvest Works, usually by ploughing so many acres for the Bishop and attending the Boons.  Six of them owed somewhat heavier Services, as well as the same elaborate Carrying & Carting Services which the Chislehampton Virgaters owed.  They carted the Grain from the field until it was all in; carried it to Oxford & Wallingford to be shipped to London, and went on the Boat with it if necessary and also carried the Bishop’s Food to various places. Like the Chislehampton Virgater they also owed ‘Wudeway’ and each had to Feed one of the Bishop’s Horses whenever the Bishop came to the Town at Martinmas & Hocktide.  There was a group of 7 Cottars, 1 half-Virgater, & 8 Tenants Renting small Parcels of the Demesne who likewise had no Week-work. The other Tenants of the bishop were liable to week-work. These were 11 villeins with 10 virgates between them, the 8 carucari and 2 half-Virgaters and about 18 of the 28 Cottars. The Virgaters owed 3 days a week of Farm Work and a 4th day when they did Carrying & Carting Services. The Ploughmen & Cottars did 2 days a week each with one man. If the land was held at Rent or ‘farmed’ the Virgaters each paid 5s 6d, the carucarii 2s each, and the Cottars 1s or 1s 4d; they still had also to perform certain Agricultural Services.

Their Services, whether farmed or not, illustrate the Agricultural life of Medieval Dorchester.  The Farmwork on the Demesne was divided among the various Tenants.  The working Virgater did Ploughing & Boon Services like the Rent-paying Virgater. He had to Stack & Toss the Hay ready for his Rent-paying Fellow to Cart; similarly, he Cut & Prepared the Wood for Carting; Stacked & Covered Haycocks and reaped a ½-acre of the Bishop’s Grain each day until it was all Reaped.  The Bishop, when he was at Dorchester, also had his Services for 2 days Threshing whether his Works were commuted or not. Two Works were taken up in making Hurdles for the Bishop’s Fold and others were devoted to making the Byres & fetching Wood from the Abbot of Eynsham’s Wood at Woodcote for the Fencing of the Bishop’s Court.  When the Bishop sent Grain to London the Virgaters were to steer the Boat and help with Transport at their own expense.  If a man made a quarter of Malt from the Bishop’s Grain it was reckoned as 2 Works.  The Cottars did similar Services.  Each carried a quarter of a quarter of Grain to the Ship when it was sent to London, Carried Eggs, and Drove Pigs & Cattle to neighbouring Manors.  They helped with the Brewing of the Bishop’s Ale.  The Bishop reserved some of their Services for the sheep-shearing which each had to attend.  Seven other Cottars did no Week-work, but among their Dues, it was stated that if they had sheep they were each to keep 5 in the Bishop’s fold from Hocktide to Martinmas and to pay 1d for every 4 in their own Fold.  One Group of Tenants was tied closely to the Demesne.  Eight carucarii or Ploughmen held 4 Virgates between them and were to be the Lord’s Ploughmen.  It was also their business to Brew the Bishop’s Ale and, with the help of the Cottars, they were to Guard any Thieves and, if necessary, Hang them.  When the Bishop’s Hay or Grain was in the Fields they and the Hayward were to watch over it nightly.  Two others with a ½-Virgate each were to be the Bishop’s Shepherd & Swineherd, but they could commute this Service for Rent and lighter Services, while a 3rd had, in fact, commuted his Service of being Cowherd.  The whole Tenure of the Survey indicates that, even if conditions were changing in the 13thC, the Bishop had in the past cultivated his Farm by the Labour Services of his Tenants and still expected to use them.


Dorchester’s Hamlet of Overy was not mentioned by name in this Survey, but there were evidently some houses there by this time.  Its Mill, described as ‘beyond the Bridge‘ (ultra pontem) was working in 1146.  The Bishop also had a 13thC Tenant Reginald, distinguished as of ultra aquam de Dorchester, i.e. of Overy.

It seems that no Survey of 1279 of Dorchester or Overy has survived. The Rolls of the Hundredal Inquest for Dorchester Hundred are defective and the 1st entry concerns Stadhampton.

A Survey of the Bishop’s Demesne in 1348 listed about 720 arable acres, 150 acres of Meadow, and 40 acres of Pasture.  Some Furlongs lay in Townships near Dorchester, but certain of them can be identified as Dorchester Lands: the Furlong under the Dyke (42a), Dyke Furlong (38a), Quenford Furlong (9a), Whalley Meadow (27a) and Horsecroft (in Overy), & ‘Erdiche Medewe‘ (later Ardiche).  The Arable was described in 3 ‘seasons’ indicating a 3-Field System.  It is clear that the Meadows & Pastures of the Thames & Thame played an important part in the Bishop’s Economy.  Warborough Inhabitants claimed Common of Pasture in Overy Fields, Meadows & Pasture and there were many disputes over this claim in the 14thC.

No Survey exists of the Abbey’s Estate which was administered from its Grange.  A fire there was mentioned in 1277.  In 1298 the Lands, Rents, & Meadows of the Abbey were valued at £15 8s 4½d a year, and fruits, flocks, & animals at £2 10s.  14thC records show that the Canons continued to build up their Estate in Dorchester: in 1397 the Bishop Granted them the Conynggere (4a), Pasture called ‘Le Hurst‘ (24a), and all the Bishop’s Fishery in the Thames & Thame at Dorchester, together with Coneys (rabbits) and other Profits, for an Annual Rent of £2 13s 6d.  At the end of the Century, the Abbey was Leasing its Dorchester Estate for a term of years.

The fortunes of the Lay People in Medieval Dorchester are less well documented. The 14thC Tax Lists show that Dorchester paid the largest Contribution in the Hundred (£3 10s in 1306), but as Overy & Fifield may be included in the return the figure is of little help in assessing the Wealth of Dorchester itself.  In 1327 there were 39 Contributors to the 20th, but the largest Contributor, William de Hoyville, perhaps paid his 13s 4d for Fifield in Benson.  Except for Hugh Dammory, who paid half this amount, no one in the Community had more than very modest wealth. Thirteen paid between 2s 6d & 5s, and 25 under 2s, most of them 1s & under. Neither the Bishop nor the Abbey were included in the List.   The total Contribution in this year was £4 9s 10d, but in 1334 it was reduced to £3 19s 8d, which remained the standard assessment.  In 1354 Dorchester was allowed an abatement of 16s 8d perhaps because of the effects of the Black Death.  There were 215 Adults listed for the Poll Tax of 1377, the 4th highest figure in this part of Oxfordshire, after Henley, Thame, & Great Milton.

Dorchester remained in Ecclesiastical hands until the 16th century when both Bishop & Canons still had substantial Farms.  At its Dissolution in 1536, the Abbey owned 7½ Arable Yardlands in Dorchester Field, an 8-acre Close sown with Corn, an Orchard, and about 80 acres of Meadow & Pasture. Certain Waters & Eyots also belonged to it as well as Overy Mill, which was Farmed for £6 a year.  One Tenant, Richard Beauforest, a substantial local man, had a large Holding for which he paid 76s 4d Rent a year. The other Tenants were 20 Cottagers, Holding by Copy and at Rents varying from 3s for a single Cottage to 12s for a Cottage & Parcel of Meadow.  When Edmund Ashfield took up the Lease of the Lands, Rents, & Site of the Monastery & Rectory the total yearly value was stated to be £34 17s 4d.  Herbage & Trees – 360 Elms & Ash of 60 to 80 years’ growth – were valued at £6.  The Bishop’s Farm of Bishop’s Court (323½a) consisted in 1545 of 95½ acres of Pasture, 64 acres of Meadow, and 164 acres of Arable.  Its Rent was nearly £20 a year.  There were also 23½ virgates held by Customary Tenants in Dorchester and 7 Virgates in Overy, besides other small parcels of land.  The Bishop’s Tenants, like those of the Abbot, were Copyholders and usually took their lands for 2 or 3 lives. Most still had only a single Yardland, but 4 had 3 or 4 Yardlands. Their annual Rent brought in about £23 a year.

Some local families prospered in the conditions of the 16thC. Out of the total Tax from the 47 Contributors to the 1523 subsidy, Richard Beauforest paid over a 3rd.  In 1545 he evidently took over the lease of Bishop’s Court, and a few years later he also held of the Bishop 3 Customary Messuages & Virgates and a Moor called ‘Les Tanne House‘.  Both his sons were termed Gentlemen and one had the highest assessment for the 1577 subsidy, paying on £10 worth of goods.  Another of the Bishop’s Tenants, Roger Hatchman, a Gentleman of Ewelme, who held 2 Cottages & 2 Virgates by Customary Tenure, was able to obtain the Reversion of Bishop’s Court in 1550 from the Crown for rent of £14 13s a year.  He had been the Crown’s Bailiff for the Abbey Lands and also Lessee of the Bishop’s Land for a time.  In the subsidy list of 1577 the Cherrills, a Yeoman Family of Overy, stand out among the 16 Contributors as substantial men.

There is no certain evidence for the Medieval and pre-Parliamentary Inclosure of Dorchester, but some clearly took place.  By the 18thC the Open-fields lay solely in the Northern part of the Parish and round Overy.  It appears that by the 16thC some of the Bishop’s Land was Inclosed; it was certainly partly consolidated, for a Lease of Bishop’s Court in 1545 described land lying in blocks of 50 & 30 acres and of 10 to 20 acres in certain Furlongs.   The Right of the Lessee, Richard Beauforest, to hold these lands in severalty was disputed in 1554, when a Yeoman and several Labourers of Dorchester tore down the gate of Whalley Meadow and other Inclosed lands, including 30 acres of Arable. They drove off his Cattle and put in their own.  In the 17thC Tenants claimed that they had once had Common Rights in Bishops Field and it looks as if the land here had 1st been consolidated and then later Inclosed.  The Abbey’s Arable, on the other hand, certainly still lay in the Open-fields in the 16thC.  There is little doubt that much of the Meadow & Pasture, belonging both to the Bishop and to the Abbey, lay in separate Closes.  New Close (8a), Mill Close (30a), & Swannesneste (5a) were described amongst the Bishop’s Meadow & Pasture; and amongst the Abbey’s Pasture were the Closes Great Mayns (21a) & Little Mayns (4a), & Connygger (1½a).  There is no evidence that this arose from any movement to convert Arable into Pasture in the 16thC. Many of the Abbey’s Pasture & Meadow Closes are recognisable in Medieval Grants and the Lease of Bishop’s Court in 1545 specifically laid down that Arable was not to be converted into Pasture.  This proviso, however, which appears in other of the Bishop’s Leases at this time, may have little special relevance to conditions in Dorchester.  Two large Pasture Closes described in the 17thC as containing 40 & 50 acres respectively indicate that there had been some conversion and Inclosure perhaps later in the 16thC.

In the 17thC there were 3 Open-fields in Dorchester itself: West Field, Middle Field & East Field were mentioned in contemporary documents.  Two can be identified from Furlong names as lying in the North of the Parish.  It is not known how far South the Fields extended but in 1728 they were said to ‘lye far from home‘.  In the 17th century a 3-course System was probably followed, 2 Crops and a Fallow: contemporary Court Rolls speak of the Summertilth (i.e. Fallow) Field and of the Wheatfield & Lent Field.  By this time, however, experiments in cropping were being tried.  Early 17thC Inventories speak of hitches and it is evident that part of the Fallow was being used for growing Pulse.  By 1728 the Fields were  This new system was much criticized by the Earl of Abingdon’s Surveyor in 1728 on the grounds that the soil was dry and ‘burning‘ in a Drought (a modern criticism also), and required constant ‘Mucking & Manuring‘; he implied that 3 Crops would exhaust the soil and advocated one part being laid down to Permanent Grass.  Overy had only one Field, which in the 18thC was Cropped annually.  The land was said to be good, but the Surveyor thought that a Fallow should be incorporated.  Later Surveys show that his advice was not followed and in 1785 Overy was called ‘every year’s land‘.

Hemp was among the Crops cultivated in Dorchester from the 16thC at least, when the Hemp Crofts or ‘Les Hempelands‘, which lay behind the Villagers’ Cottages, were mentioned.

Although some Meadow was Inclosed by the 16thC, the records suggest that certain Meadows were still Common in the 16th & 17thCs, i.e. Henpoole, Roundel, & Lot meadows & Overy Mead.  Despite its Rivers Dorchester Meadows were said to be poor: in 1728 the Surveyor maintained that they did not produce ‘more than half a turn to an acre‘.  There were Common Pasture rights attached to each Tenement.  In the 17thC the Commons were the Moor (probably the Common in the North of the Parish), the Cow Lease, Bridge Common, the Road from Thame to Chislehampton, and the Road to Drayton & ‘Rundellaway‘.  The Fields also were Common when cleared.  Regulations about the use of the Commons were constantly made by the Manorial Courts.  In 1632 the Stint was stated to be 30 sheep & 3 beasts to a Yardland and fines of 3s 4d per month for every extra Gross of sheep and 6d for every extra Cow kept on the Commons were imposed.  Only lambs which had been lambed on the Commons were to be kept on them.  In 1634 Presentments were made for keeping Hogs in the Cornfield, Sheep in the Cow Leaze, and beasts from the Common Herd.  Two Fieldmen were appointed each year to ‘Drive’ the Commons and to impound Cattle.

Another of the Chief Agricultural Matters dealt with by the Courts were disputes over boundaries of Holdings in the Open-fields. Homagers were frequently called in to settle disputes between Tenants, as in 1691 when 7 Homagers were ordered to meet at the ‘Three Cups‘ in Dorchester and go into Overy Field to set out Mere or Boundary Stones ‘for the preventing of controversies for the future‘.

Dorchester in the late 17th century was evidently rather larger than the average Village and appears to have been a Market Town. Seventy-nine householders were returned for the 1662 Hearth Tax.  In 1728 the Earl of Abingdon’s Estate there was said to consist mainly of small buildings and Dorchester was described as ‘a poor Town without any manner of Trade nor likely much to improve‘.  The land of the 2 Chief Manors, i.e. the Abingdon & Fettiplace Estates, was entirely let out to Tenants at this period.  In 1691 the Fettiplace Manor had 2 Tenants at Will who held the Parsonage House, the Demesnes, & Tithes for some £285 a year.  Three tenants held by Lease and their Rents brought in £135 a year; 27 Tenants were Copyholders, paying only small Rents.  The Lord of the Manor received only about £19 a year from these Tenements as against £169 if he had held them in his own hands. The Ferry, Mills, & 6 Inns also belonged to him.  The Abingdon Estate likewise had a preponderance of Copyhold lands held at low rents.  In 1728 there were 67 Copyholders, 18 Leaseholders, and 2 Rack-renters in Dorchester, and 15 Copyholders & Freeholders in Overy.  The old value of the Estate in Dorchester was £448 15s; the real value was £564 3s 8d and Quit-rents were £24 10s 4d.  In Overy the old value was £104 16s 8d as against £170 12s real value; Quit-rents were £4 5s 3d  On both Estates most Customary Tenants held for a term of 2 or 3 Lives or on long Lease.  Resident Freeholders were comparatively few: in 1754 only 9 out of 16 40s Freeholders occupied their premises.

A large number of small & medium Farms remained typical of Dorchester throughout the 18thC.  In 1757 only 4 Farmers paid over 10s to the Church Rate of 1d in the £1, while 23 Inhabitants paid between 1s & 6s and 36 paid under 1s.  In 1785 there were again only 5 large Contributors to a rate and the land Tax for that year shows that there were about 9 medium-sized Farms and 32 occupiers of Land or Cottages assessed at under £2.  In 1808 Arthur Young listed 50 Rateable Farms.  Nevertheless, the Abingdon Estate Accounts show that the smaller Holders were being gradually eliminated.  By 1754 the number of Leaseholders & Copyholders in Dorchester & Overy had dropped to 75 and by 1813 there were about 9 Rack-renters, 50 Leaseholders & Copyholders.  The sale of the Fettiplace Estate further improved the position of the larger Farmers.  By 1808 4 of the largest Farms were owned, at least partly, by their Occupiers and their Farmers were able to buy the Tithes in that year and purchase a good part of the 312 acres of the Estate which was sold off at the same time.  They paid good prices and the Sale realised £16,840.  The Land Tax of 1832 shows that some Farmers had taken in the Holdings of as many as 5 or 6 previous Tenants.  The Chief changes in Ownership since 1785, when the Earl of Abingdon, the Trustees of the Fettiplace Estate, and Sir Henry Oxenden had divided most of the Parish, was that several of the larger Farmers now owned a fair proportion of the Parish.

Click to Enlarge

1st Series OS Map Of Oxfordshire
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 & 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.

The Tithe Awards of 1840 for Overy and of 1846 for Dorchester show that most of the land was Arable.  If Davis’s Oxfordshire Map of 1797 is accurate the Land on the East of the Parish had been converted to Arable since that date.  In the 1840s only about 1/8th of the Parish was Meadow or Pasture; some 1,447 acres were Arable.  Sixty-four acres in Dorchester & 7 acres in Overy were Common lands.  Three Farms were over 300 acres: George Davey’s Overy Farm (c.345a., the Lathams’ Bishop’s Court Farm (428a) and Vincent Cherrill’s Manor Farm (312a). There were 2 Farms of 87 & 112 acres respectively & 6 of 20 to 50 acres. Over 100 people had only Cottages & Houses and under 10 acres of land.  In 1851 4 Farms over 300 acres were described including James Shrubb’s Queensford Mill Farm of 600 acres, some of which probably lay outside the Parish. Some 157 labourers were employed on these Farms. Some 681 acres of Dorchester still belonged to the Abingdon Estate, about half held as ‘Lifeholds’ or Leaseholds at low Rents and the rest held on yearly Tenancies.  In 1844 it was said that Inclosure would greatly increase the value of this land.  Nevertheless, there was no Inclosure Award until 1861, partly perhaps because most of the land was in the hands of a few Farmers.  By the Award the Earl of Abingdon received the largest Allotment of 533 acres in Dorchester & 123 acres in Overy; he was also given 3 acres 3 rod 36 perch for his Manorial Rights.  Vincent Cherrill & Robert Davey received about 60 acres each. There were 22 other Allottees in Dorchester and 5 in Overy but most received under 1 acre, 6 of them for Cow Commons or Horse Common Rights only.

There were considerable changes of Ownership at the end of the 19thC, but the larger Farms, mostly on the fairly big Estates, continued to be a marked feature. The Bertie Property was sold and Queensford Mill Farm became part of the Jabez Balfour Estate which extended into Burcot.  The Davey Farm in Overy was purchased by St John’s College, Oxford, by 1874 and formed part of their 1,000-acre Estate in Overy and neighbouring Parishes.  One man Farmed 550 acres of this Estate.  By 1916 the 6 Farms in the Parish were each under different Ownership, 2 of them being Owner occupied.  The rest of Dorchester was divided among a large number of small Owners & Tenants.  By 1959 there had been further Amalgamation and there were only 4 Farmers in Dorchester.

A combination of Arable & Pasture Farming remained typical of Dorchester Farming in the beginning of the 20th century. When Dorchester Field Farm (536a) was sold in 1914 over 470 acres of it were Arable.  Some of the best Holdings were to be found between the Hills & Dorchester, particularly if sheep were kept to counteract the tendency of the Gravel Soil to dry out and burn the Crops.  In 1909 there were over 60 sheep per 100 acres in Dorchester.  In the same year Frank Shrubb of Overy Farm, who sold 551 sheep off the Farm, besides fat beasts & pigs, maintained that sheep breeding was ‘his industry’.  Following the usual trend in 20thC Oxfordshire sheep gave way to cattle on this Farm and in 1959 Beef Stock were kept on 70 acres of Permanent Pasture.  Otherwise, little Stock was kept in Dorchester, which remained predominantly Arable. Over 100 acres have been lost to Agriculture in the 1950s by Gravel Workings in the North of the Parish and by the building of the new Village of Berinsfield.


The Population of the Parish rose steadily in the 19thC from 901 in 1811 to 1,097 in 1861.  It then declined until in 1901 it stood at only 944 persons.  The trend was reversed in the 20thC: in 1951 the Population reached 1,500 and has continued to increase because of the Settlement at Berinsfield.

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