The Ancient Parish of Emmington covered only 740 acres before 1932 when it was United with Chinnor for Civil purposes. The combined Parishes now cover 3,450 acres. Emmington lies in the plain on the Northside of the Chilterns; it was bounded in the North by the County Boundary between Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire and on the West a small Stream, running parallel with the Main Road from Thame to Chinnor, was its only natural Boundary.
Domesday Book Entry
“William Peverel holds 10-Hides in Emmington. Land for 5 Ploughs. Now in Demesne are 2 Ploughs and 6 Slaves and 10 Villans and 4 Bordars with 5 Ploughs. There are 12 acres of Meadow. It was worth £6 now £7. Alwine held these 2 Estates freely.”
The Ancient Parish lay in the Clay belt and was mostly about 270ft above sea level, but in the Centre & South the Land rose slightly to about 325ft. Since 1877 at least the Village has been approached by a Road branching off the Thame-Chinnor Road at the point where the ‘Plough & Harrow‘ (Inn @ Emmington) stands, but this Road is not marked on Sir Henry Ashhurst’s Map of 1697 or on Richard Davis’s Map Of Oxfordshire 1797. The main approach used to be by the old Towersey-Chinnor Road, called Burgidge Way at the Chinnor end, which ran to the East of the Village. Both this way and the way to Henton, shown on the Maps of 1697 & 1797, disappeared when Chinnor Fields were Inclosed.
The Village stands on a slight eminence at about 315ft up and is T-shaped. Village Farm and a few Cottages lie along the arms of the T, and Manor Farm and the one-time Rectory lie in the Main Street. The Church which lies to the South can only be reached by a grass path. The Manor-House no longer exists. In the Middle Ages, it belonged to the Sackville Family, and Deeds were often witnessed by them at Emmington. There is a record in 1275 & 1316, in the time of Jordan & Andrew de Sackville, of the House’s Court or Close, its Garden & Dovecot.
In the 15thC, the Family was allied by marriage with the Malyns Family, their Neighbours at Henton, in Chinnor. In the 16th & 17thCs, the House was the home of the Hampden Family, notably of Richard Hampden, the cousin of the Parliamentarian John Hampden and the tradition that the House was blown up by Gunpowder in the Civil War is likely to be correct. Opposing Troops were frequently in the Neighbourhood; the House does not appear in the Hearth-Tax lists of the 1660s and Sir Henry Ashhurst’s Map of 1697 shows only what appears to be a part of its Foundations in the large Court Close, lying to the South of the Church. The Cartographer seems to have drawn the Stone-paved Fish-pond and a part of the Moat, of which traces can still be seen today.
Manor Farm was by far the largest House in the Village in 1665 when Jeremiah White returned 8 hearths for the Hearth Tax, and the Map of 1697 shows it as a large L-shaped House with 4-Bays in the main Wing and 1-Bay in the other Wing. A part of the old Building still remains: the Main Wing was re-Fronted in the 18thC with chequer Brick and given some Sash windows, but its original Timber construction can be seen at the back. The other Wing has been pulled down. What may have been a Brewhouse, judging from the name Bruehouse Close adjoining it, which was standing in Front of Manor Farm in 1697, has also been pulled down. The Rectory, a Private house since 1908, was largely rebuilt in 1874 by the Architect, E G Bruton, although its Jacobean Wing of brick with a massive Chimney-Stack was retained; the Builders were Messrs Holland of Thame. In 1818, after a long period of non-Resident Rectors, the old house was said to be only a Cottage and unfit for a Clergyman’s Residence; in 1852 it was described as a ‘very old neglected building‘. Village Farm, occupied by Thomas Howlett in 1697, is still substantially a 17thC House, although like Manor Farm it has been re-Fronted at a later date with chequer brick. Some of the 17thC smaller houses have also survived as Cottages. What is now called the Old Gamekeeper’s Cottage was the house of Joseph Cox, a Carpenter.
In the past, the Village was always a compact one. In 1738 & 1759 there were said to be 13 houses and the Rector stated that the ‘furthest was not a furlong from the Church‘. Waterlands Farm, the only Dwelling outside the Village until modern times, was built in the early 19thC. In the 20thC, new Cottages were built along the Road connecting the Village with the Thame Road.
OS Map 1919 Sth Oxon XLI.12 (Sydenham, Emmington)
Emmington has always been entirely concerned with Agriculture and has no claims to any special distinction.