Great Haseley – the History of the Area
There is little Published on the History of Great Haseley. Chief amongst the unpublished sources is Delafield’s History, 3 manuscript volumes in the Bodleian Library, which give a History of the Village up to the early 18thC. Delafield was born in c.1690 and wrote his History in the late 1730s (vol.3 can be dated to 1739). Another valuable source of particular relevance is an Estate Map of 1701 by ‘Joel Gascoyne’.
The present House’s position next to the Church suggests that it occupies a Medieval Site, the focus by the 13thC of a substantial Demesne Farm. The nearby 14thC Barn (now attached to Church Farm) formed part of the Manorial Complex and was repaired by the Dean & Canons of Windsor in the later Middle Ages.
The House itself was rebuilt on an H-plan in the late 17thC, probably for one of the Lenthalls as Tenants of the Dean & Canons; a surviving strapwork Staircase is slightly earlier but could have been imported. The irregular 7-Bay Front is of coursed Limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings, its central Doorway Pedimented and flanked by Pilasters, while the Cornice above breaks into another open Pediment. The Attics were originally lit by 3-Dormers to the central Block and one in each of the Wings, although the 3 survivals (which feature elaborate triangular Pediments & Finials) seem to be 19thC insertions. The West Wing, remodelled in a more austere style in the 18thC, has a plain Parapet and retains some high-quality Marble Fireplaces, while broadly contemporary work included remodelling of the Main Staircase & insertion of a new West Service Stair.
Probably all of that work was for the Tenant Thomas Blackall (d.1786), perhaps as part of an abortive remodelling of the whole Facade. A 2-Storeyed extension on the West was added by the Boultons in the 1880s-90s but removed in the mid-20thC, while a major restoration in the early 21stC partly reversed some more recent Internal changes. Former Outbuildings include an 18thC Stable Block in similar style to the House, while the grounds are enclosed by Limestone rubble walls with Ashlar Piers & Ball Finials.
Great Haseley Estate Maps, Surveyed & drawn in ink by William Burgess in 1729. Wrapped in a vellum cover, it contains 5 hand-coloured Plans, beautifully illustrated with Borders & Cartouches, which cover different areas of the Village – East, South-East, North-East, North & South-West. They are a delight to behold and demonstrate the Artistic skills of the Surveyor as well as his meticulous measurements. The Final double page includes a written Table entitled ‘The Particulars of Great Hasely in the County of Oxon’ which lists the occupiers of the Land, both Freeholders and Copyholders, and analyses their Holdings.
The Map shown here covers the South-West of the Village, delineating field boundaries, identifying individual strips of Arable in the Open-fields with their Owners & Acreage, and providing coloured elevations of individual Buildings, including the Church, Manor House & Tithe Barn on the top-left of the plan which are lovingly portrayed by the Artist. Each Close and Meadow is carefully drawn and the pictorial representations of the smaller houses, with hedged Gardens, Trees and Out-houses, provide a good impression of the layout of Great Haseley in the 1st-half of the 18thC. Local Historians have found the maps invaluable in tracing the History of the Village and dating some of its Buildings, whilst the accompanying Tables provide a wealth of Information for the Economic & Agricultural Historian. We learn for example that of the 588 acres of land in Great Haseley, 215 acres are made up of Open-fields divided into Strips farmed by 19 named Tenants, with the remainder enclosed by 9 individual Farmers as Arable Land (over 173 acres) Pasture (over 149 acres), Meadow (over 39 acres) and Woodland (2 acres). Of the 49 Cottagers named in a further Table, 7 are Widows and one, William Hinton, holds a Vineyard. This pattern of Landholding probably continued until the early 19th century when a Private Enclosure Act, passed in 1820 and implemented 2 years later, led to the enclosure and reallocation of the remaining Open-fields.
The name is thought to derive from Hazel Ley – meaning a clearing in a Hazel Wood. For many Centuries Woods stretched from the main London – Oxford Road to beyond Standhill and there appears to be no mention of a Road to the Village until after the Norman Conquest, though there is mention of one, past the Foundry through to Cuddesdon. As Roman coins have been dug up in the Churchyard it is possible that there was a settlement here very early and there is evidence in a document now in the Bodleian Library that by 800AD there was a Church here, dedicated to St Peter, as it still is. Part of the Font is also thought to be Saxon. By the time of Edward the Confessor this area, known as Hazeley, belonged to Queen Edith. There are 2 references to Great (and Little) Haseley in the Domesday Book. The Principal Landowner was Miles Crispin, who was granted the land by William the Conqueror.
Domesday Book Entry
16 hides (notionally the amount of land which would support a Household). [There is] land for 18 ploughs. Now in Demesne [are] 3 ploughs, 5 slaves; & 15 Villains with 13 Bordars (the former were Peasants of higher economic status than the latter) have 15 ploughs. There are 60 acres of Meadow, [&] Woodland 2 Furlongs long & 2 Furlongs broad. TRE (Tempore Regis Edwardi – i.e. before the Conquest in 1066) & afterwards, as now, worth £15
The plain of low relief conforms closely with the Geological Pattern, for Central Oxfordshire presents a Broad Vale of Clays, much modelled by the action of the River Thames and its many Tributaries.” On this, the more Easterly side of the Plain, the River Thame, a left-hand Tributary of the Thames, has cut its way down on to the Kimmeridge Clay. The Haseley Brook, a Tributary of the River Thame, has not proceeded so far in its denudational role and still flows over rocks higher in the Geological sequence than the Kimmeridge Clay. The Farmland of Great Haseley, therefore, extends across the outlier of the creamy Limestones & Sands of the Upper Portland Beds of Jurassic Age and its higher fields spread over the ferruginous Shotover Sands of the Wealden Lower Cretaceous which rest upon the irregular surfaces of the Portland Stone, heavily gulled & piped by solution. The fault Tract to the South of the Village brings again the Shotover Sands to the surface, but here they consist almost entirely of buttery Clays with subordinate seams of Sand. Between the Settlement, on Great Haseley & the Farmstead of Latchford another significant Geological Boundary is crossed, and most of the Fields of this Farm are on Gault Clay.
The Church & Churchyard of St Peter’s are of Medieval Origin and Archaeological evidence probably of a Medieval Manor survives in the Fishponds, now filled in, in the Eastern part of the Field known historically as North Grove & South Grove and in the Earthwork along the Southern Boundary to this Field. The Fishponds appear on Gascoyne’s Map of 1701 and were still evident on the 1st Edition of the Ordnance Survey Map of 1881. The Boundary of the Groves was probably a Manorial Boundary. It also appears on Gascoyne’s Map and is shown as an Earthwork on the 1881 Ordnance Survey Map. Whilst this Map shows it planted with trees, it was not bounded by trees in the early 18thC, nor are trees shown on the 1920s OS map. In the Medieval Period, written records concentrate on the lives of “the great and the good” focusing on who married whom & what children they had. The amassing of Large Estates meant fortune & power and the retention of these Estates depended on Male Issue. Delafield’s history, therefore, details successive Owners of the Manor though they would not necessarily have lived in the Village, as most had other large Estates elsewhere. Many were major figures nationally, marrying into the Royal Family & other Aristocratic Families. Of these, the Pypards are of particular local interest as this Family had probably lived in Great Haseley since the Conquest and evidence of their occupation may still be seen on the Ground. The Family was one of great Antiquity and of Foreign extraction, having come to England with William The Conqueror, though they were apparently less distinguished than some other Lords of the Manor. They were, in fact, under-Tenants rather than Owners of Great Haseley, though there are records of the Pypard Family owning Land in other parts of the County to which they gave their name e.g. Rotherfield Peppard. It was not until some time after 1400 that they became Owners of the Manor, and their ‘Mannour Place was scituate at Great Haseley, being heretofore called the Farm Place, as the Eastern Yard and the Great Barn do still carry that name‘. This is the approximate Site of the present Manor House. The Eastern Yard is where Church Farm is now, with the Great Barn running along the Northern Boundary. This was originally probably twice the size of the existing Barn, indicating the significant Wealth of the Manor. The Pypard line died out in 1482 and the Patronage of the Rectory of Haseley was given to the College of the Dean & Canons of Windsor.
OS Area Map c.1882
The 16th & 17thCs
The successors to the Pypards – the Lenthalls – are also of significance in that they have left behind standing Buildings, for it was the Lenthalls who built the present Manor House in the last Quarter of the 17thC. Amongst records relating to the Lenthalls are the deaths of 3 members of the Family within 6-days of each other, in November 1558, presumably from a common sickness. Eight burials are recorded in the Parish Register of November that year & 12 more in December. In addition 6 ‘goers by the way‘ i.e. Strangers were buried. As Delafield’s History moves into the 17thC much more is included by way of personal details as he incorporates information passed down to him by older people in the Village. Edmund Lenthall, who is mentioned as one of the Trustees of the Poor of Great Haseley in 1651, died in 1667.
Delafield notes: He was very well remembered by many antient [ancient] People, who were lately living in the Parish of Hasely; whom I have heard describe him as a little black man in his person, of a lean & long visage, with a red face full of pimples, and of a temper very hasty & passionate. He supported Parliament during the Civil War and thereby secured the neighbourhood from mutilation by Troops quartered at Thame. He encouraged the neighbourhood to take up Arms in the Parliamentary Cause: And there is not a grown person now living & bred up in the place, but remembers Old Anthony Thame, a very Ancient Man, who was a regular Trooper in their Army, and to his death preserved his Ammunition Coat, being a good red cloth turned up with blue & brass buttons; in which he almost every Sunday appeared at Church.
Edmund had died a year before his father, Sir John Lenthall, so it was his son, William, who succeeded in 1688. He built the present Manor House and appears to have been a colourful if dissolute, Character:
The last of this Name & Family was William Lenthal Esq, 2nd son of Edmund, who built the present Manour House. He married Lucy, one of the daughters of Edmund Dunches Esq of Little Wittenham in Berkshire. But what through the Passion that his Lady had for Dress & Play, and his own Profuseness, and still more ruinous vices & debaucheries, he went not only through his Estates here & elsewhere, but even his Hereditary Patrimony of the King’s Bench. And at last, died so much reduced, and so little known, or at least regarded, that I cannot assign the place where he was buryed, unless it be St Georges Church, Southwark, within the Rules of the King’s Bench. Though I have heard it said that he was buryed at the expense of the Earl of Radnor, who has his Estates here at Lachford.
His wife survived a short time & lived at Haseley and ‘was there buryed in the buryal place of the Family, where I (Delafield) went to School in the Church about 1700, and some years after, her Achievement was to be seen against the wall…. but there was no Stone to show the place of her grave.’
It was probably shortly after his grandfather died that William embarked on building the Manor House which undoubtedly contributed to his Financial problems. The 1701 Estate Map by Gascoyne clearly shows the Manor House more or less in its present form, though it was subsequently altered in the late 18thC. The functions of the Outbuildings & Garden areas are also listed giving an insight into life in an English Country House at this time. Listed, presumably in order of importance are:
The Great House; the Approach; the Privi Garden; the Flower Garden; the Dovehouse; the Bowling Greene; the Courtyard; the Brewhouse; the Stable & Coachhouse; the Kitching Garden; the Orchard; the Great Barne; the Stables for the Cart Horses; the Barne Court; the Back Court; the Greene high walk in the Orchard.
The Great Barn suffered a partial collapse sometime in the 1st half of the 18thC and the present Stable Block was built on part of the Site. The Glebe Map of c.1730 shows the truncated Great Barn and the new Stable Block. The Blackalls acquired the Estates around this time and may well have been responsible for the work. Famous Rectors of this period were: John Leland, Historian & Chaplain to Henry VIII, John Harding, who helped in the Translation of the Bible, Authorised Version commanded by James I & Christopher Wren, father of the famous Architect. It is not until the 17thC that any significant evidence for the History of ordinary Folk in the Village is found. Evidence for their lives lies principally in surviving Buildings and the Landscape. Several small houses date from the 17thC, such as 10 & 11 Mill Lane, The Orchard & Vine Cottage.
William Lenthall was thus forced into the clutches of Money-Lenders and with Great Haseley & Latchford as Security, he borrowed £7,000 from Sir John Cutler, an eminent & rich Member of the Grocers’ Company of London. The Foreclosure date passed without Repayment and the Debt increased over the years.” On 15th April 1693 Sir John Cutler died, but a few days before his death, as he lay critically ill, he sent for his daughter and patched up a 4-year-old quarrel. Elizabeth Cutler had alienated her father’s affections by marrying, against his wishes, Charles Bodville Robartes. The reconciliation was complete & absolute and its extent can be measured by the fact that Sir John on his deathbed told his daughter & son-in-law that he freely forgave them and had settled his Estate to their Satisfaction. The Debt owed by William Lenthall on Great Haseley & Latchford passed into the hands of Charles Bodville Robartes and by 6th June 1700, William Lenthall admitted that the Debt then owing had accumulated to £20,438-10s-6½d. Not only did this figure exceed the estimated value of Great Haseley & Latchford but also the yearly interest on this sum could not even be met by the annual income from the Manor. This being so, Robartes submitted a Bill into the High Court of Chancery, praying that William Lenthall be compelled to pay what was due and in default, thereof the Manor of Great Haseley & Latchford should be sold. William Lenthall agreed to the Sale but before anything further could be done, he died without Issue & Intestate; the winding-up of his Affairs was complicated and the Legal wrangling dragged on for years, the eventual Settlement requiring a Bill to the House of Lords long after what is relevant to the present context. The circumstances already outlined, however, provide the background and indicate the need for the Mapping of Great Haseley & Latchford. There is no doubt that Robartes was a Cartographically-minded Land-Owner who liked to have not only a Pictorial representation of his Estates but also an accompanying Dossier of Land-Holders’ Names and the acreages they held; his Land-holding was a highly sophisticated & documented business. It would seem that in order to estimate the value of Great Haseley & Latchford, either before submitting the Bill to the Court of Chancery or as a preliminary to the Sale, he required detailed knowledge of the Property and to this end employed Joel Gascoyne to carry out the work, since he was a Surveyor whose employment by him was by then of long-standing & well-tried.
Detail of Joel Gascoyne‘ Map of 1701
Gascoyne’s Map covers 3-pieces of Vellum stuck & stitched together so as to make up a continuous Sheet which measures 1315-mm West to East & 785-mm South to North. It gives the impression of having been well-used, for the Vellum is stained in places, much of the lettering has been rubbed off, while the Colours, by their lack of freshness, bear witness to the Friction of handling over the Centuries. Nevertheless, for a flat Map which was Housed on the Manor from 1701 to the 1930s, it is remarkably well-preserved and provides an interesting Surveying example of Joel Gascoyne’s work.
The inset in the top right-hand corner of the Map where the Church & Manor House are drawn in profile. The Facades, which, for the most part still survive, provide an interesting Architectural record as indeed does the Drawing of the Manor House portrayed with its Gardens, Bowling Green, Brewhouse, Stables & Coach-house; a complex of Buildings sufficiently important to require a separate Legend, ‘A Scheme of the Mansion House with the Gardens, Orchards … ‘
As showing the ‘Sporting‘ nature of the Bags made in earlier days, an entry in the Haseley Court Game-Book of 1851 may be quoted. The Bag included pheasants, partridges, woodcock, snipe, hares, rabbits, & wood-pigeons, these being killed on the same day by one Gun. A curious entry occurs in 1853: ‘Dropshot Copse – 2 hares, 3 or 4 Poachers’; whether the latter formed part of the day’s Bag is not clear! A good Bag was made over Pointers on 1st September 1859, when 5 guns killed 101 partridges & 6 hares. On 22nd December in the same year Big Wood, which as a matter of fact hardly covers 30 acres, was shot over by 6 Guns and yielded 26 pheasants, 4 pigeons, 109 hares, & 18 rabbits. The Spinneys & Double Hedges with which the Haseley Court Estate abounds would have lent themselves particularly well to shooting over Spaniels, while the wide Fields, over which driving would be well-nigh impossible, form the ideal ground for the work of Pointer or Setter. In the course of a day’s Shooting on 22nd November 1860, 8 Foxes were seen. In 1865 a rough-legged Buzzard was killed at Spartam (or Spartham) Bog, which, by the way, is one of the best of the South Oxfordshire Fox-Coverts. It is always interesting to notice the variety of Wildfowl which fly out of the Covert while the Hounds are busy among the reeds & rushes so beloved of Foxes.
Except on the South & South-East side, the Manor House & Village are surrounded by the Chaumpaine of ‘Fields‘ sub-divided into Furlongs & Strips with Aratal Curves, which occupy the South-facing higher ground and the medium-textured Soils derived from the Portland Beds & the Shotover Sands. These brown, Sandy Limestones, Clays & Ferruginous Sands provided a Loamy Soil on which the Arable Fields were created, but, once over the Fault, as the ground sloped down to the Brook which rose in 3-Springs, one at the Village, the Land-use noted by Joel Gascoyne changed to Grass. He found the same Land-use on the Clay soils to the South-East of the Village, where the Land falls again to the Haseley Brook, but here there were larger areas of more intractable Soils and the Land had been Enclosed, a fact reflected in the Field Names: Great Taylors Close, the Middle Closes. Alongside the micro-meandering Haseley Brook, diligently followed by the Parish Boundary, the Closes become very small in size and a continuous Riparian repetition of the names Mead & Meadow with differentiating epithets discloses the subtle & ancient response of Land-use to as the practical & common-sense Partition of the Land into Parishes, so that a variety of Terrains was available for Corn, Pasture, & Hay. To attain the same variety on the Manors that made up the Parish, their Boundaries often inter-digitated and so the high Ground between the headwaters of the Haseley Brook tributaries formed part of Rycote Manor to the North. Joel Gascoyne Mapped the swing of the Parish Boundary to the North and the Southerly protruding tongue of high Land which belonged to Rycote. In addition, there was the clear-cut Eastern termination of the Chaumpaine Fields as the Shotover Sands disappeared beneath the alluvium of the Tributary Valley Floors and, more particularly, beneath the Gault. Just West of Latchford the Gault has weathered to form a stiff bluish-grey Soil, and the scenery reflects this change in so far as the whole of the area is Marsh or Closes for Grass: not only are the place-names again eloquent of the Land-use – Spartam Field, Ewes Ground, Rams Close, Adams Close – but also is the contemporary description by Delafield:
It is known, that Spartam (even in the remembrance of the Generation last past) continued to be a Bog, and that there was a Turvery, from whence great quantities of Turfs were yearly cut for the Service of the Lenthalls, and other Inhabitants of this place. This Village of Lachford differs from the 2-Haseleys in this that its Lands are all Enclosed, and it does not admit of any Ploughed Common Fields. Its enclosures are chiefly Pasture or Meadow: its soil deep, rich, and abundant in Grass, and excellently fitted for the nourishment of Milched Kine, and the Fatting of Small, or Greater Cattel for the Shambles. There is in it one particular rich Pasture, at every Season of the Year to be distinguished from the rest, by the lively Verdure of its Carpet: from whence it hath got besides its Proper, the Additional Name of the Green Mead. Near Latchford, at a low-point, water remained on the surface to form a small Pond and, not unexpectedly, the Field adjoining was named Slipe Ground, an early 18thC word for ‘a slippery sort of Clay always wet ‘.
The 18th & 19thCs
Many more Buildings survive from the 18thC, principally along Rectory Road. The Plan form of the House i.e. the arrangement of Rooms, its Section, Materials & Detailing can all provide information on how people lived. A Range of houses from high status to humble can be found, indicating continued prosperity throughout this Period. Some of this building involved the remodelling of earlier houses.
The Blackhalls who lived in the Manor House during the 18thC, and whose typically 18thC Monuments can be seen in the Vestry, were Great Benefactors to Haseley. George Blackhall started the Haseley Charity, now called the Taylor & Blackhall Charity, and left a considerable sum for the education of children. The Old Rectory was remodelled in 1846 by William Birkett, Rector. In the 19thC, when Canon Wooler lived here with his Family, 19 Servants were kept. The Village was on the Route of an Old Drovers Road and many Drovers stopped here for refreshment. In the 18thC, the Village is reputed to have had 18 Alehouses or Inns. In the 19thC, a Carrier Service to Thame & Oxford was begun. This consisted of a covered Van with 2 horses; Benches ran along the sides of the Van; straw lay on the Floor & there were candles set in Storm Lanterns. Rugs were provided to cover the legs of Passengers in cold weather. The Carrier went to Oxford on Wednesdays & Saturdays at 9-am reaching Oxford about midday, making several stops on the way to deliver & take on Parcels etc. He started back at 4-pm reaching Haseley 8/9-pm. The cost was one 1s return. On Tuesday the Carrier went to Thame Market. For this, an Open Cart was used, with Seats back to back along the Middle. A large Umbrella was provided for the Passengers in wet weather.
The Report made in 1883 by Canon Ellison, the Rector, lists 19 activities going on the Village then, including a Drum & Fife Band, a Night School, for which 2d a week was charged and a sum returned at the end of the Winter for regular attendance, & a Lending Library. An Independent Chapel had been built by 1881 on Backway and the Victorian Houses at the junction of Latchford Lane & Church Hill had also been built by then. In 1892 a Village Institute as opened for the use of the Village every weekday evening in Winter. When the School was rebuilt in 1902, this Institute became the Infants’ School and a Church or Village Hall was constructed out of the Glebe Farm Barn opposite. Most of the money in the Taylor & Blackhall Charity was used up in the rebuilding of the School in 1902 which closed in 1990.