The Ancient Parish of Great Milton was large & irregularly shaped: it was 5-miles long by 3-miles broad, lying 9-miles South-east of Oxford & 6-miles South-west of Thame. It comprised the Township of Chilworth in the North (1,081a), Great & Little Milton in the Centre of the Parish (1,443a & 1,348a) & the Township of Ascott at the Southern end. The Parish was thus a large one and covered 4,454 acres. In the 19thC, all 4 Tithings were separate Civil Parishes and continued to be so until 1932. In that year the Civil Parishes of Great Milton & Chilworth, except for 13 acres of Chilworth that were transferred to Wheatley, were United to form the Civil Parish of Great Milton. Ascot Civil Parish was United with Stadhampton. Little Milton remained a separate Civil Parish. In 1953, after a part of Tiddington with Albury had been transferred to Great Milton and parts of the latter had been transferred to Wheatley & Holton, the Civil Parish of Great Milton had an area of 2,513 acres.
The Ancient Parish was bounded on the West and for some way on the North by the River Thame, and one of the tributaries of the Thame formed the short Southern Boundary. Streams also divided Ascott Tithing from Little Milton and formed the Hundred Boundary separating Chilworth from Great Milton, for Chilworth lay in Bullingdon Hundred.
Much of the Parish lies between the 200 & 300ft contour lines, but it rises to 335ft on the London Road and drops to 177ft at Great & Little Milton Meadows bordering the River Thame. Most of the Eastern side of the Parish lies on Portland Beds and has a Sandy Limestone Soil; on the highest parts of the Parish, there is a thin layer of Gault Clay which also reappears around Ascott at the Southern end. There is Kimmeridge Clay in the Western part and on Milton Common a belt of Plateau Gravel.
The Main Oxford to London Road, the ‘Street‘ of a Charter of 956 and apparently a Roman Road, crosses the Northern tip of the Parish. Its importance in the History of Milton may be judged from the interest that was taken in the upkeep of Wheatley Bridge, Harpesford or Herford Bridge, as it was once called after the Ford that preceded it. The Anglo-Saxon name was ‘Herpath‘ (Army Way) Ford. The Bridge is 1st recorded in the 12thC when Henry II afforested Land extending up to it, and there is a record of its repair towards the end of the 13thC. In 1284 a Wheatley man was Granted Pontage (a duty in lieu of Tax) for 2-yrs to enable him to repair the King’s Bridge. He used local Stone from a Wheatley Quarry. A similar Grant of Pontage was made to 2 men in 1307. In the 16thC Thomas Danvers, Lord of Waterstock, bequeathed in 1501 part of £20 for the repair of the Bridge & the Highway. Another Bequest was made in 1631 by Abraham Archdale of Wheatley, who left £10 for its repair. The petition by Milton and other neighbouring Villages made about this time to Archbishop Laud gives an idea of the Traffic on the road. They complained that Oxford Carriers were ruining it by carrying ‘unreasonable’ loads of 40 to 60 Tons each. Laud asked the Chancellor of the University that not more than 6 horses to a Cart should be used.
Michael Burghers – Map Of Oxfordshire 1677
Beautifully embellished Map of the County of Oxfordshire engraved by Michael Burghers for Dr Robert Plot’s “The Natural History of Oxfordshire” published in 1677, a work that contained descriptions and images of Fossils found in the County including the 1st known illustration of a Dinosaur bone. The defining characteristic of the Map is the extensive decoration of the Borders & Cartouches with 178 Coats of Arms of the Colleges of Oxford University, Noblemen and Clergy. Also included is a Key explaining the Symbols used to identify various types of Locations on the Map.
Leland in 1546 & Ogilby in 1675 recorded that the Bridge had 8-Arches, but repairs to it during the 17th, 18th & 19thCs considerably altered its appearance. In 1958 it had 3 semicircular Stone Arches, mainly apparently 18th & 19thC work. There are numerous records of repairs, e.g. in 1711 William Townsend the elder, Mason of Oxford, was to receive £100 for ‘Surveying’ the repair; in 1749 & 1757 Richard Belcher, Mason, received £59 odd for his work. In 1809 the Bridge was rebuilt and in 1820 the Stokenchurch & Wheatley Turnpike Trust widened the ‘little Bridge‘ (presumably part of the Medieval Bridge) ‘adjacent to the Main structure‘ at a cost of £222. The Trust considered that the repair of the ‘little Bridge‘ should be borne by the County. In 1840 the walls of the Embankment adjoining the Main Bridge were rebuilt. Local Stone was probably used as in 1880.
Three Secondary Roads branch off the London Road and run across the Parish to the Miltons and their Hamlets, and connect with the Shillingford to Aylesbury Road. One of these, Swarford Lane, used to run close to Bridge Farm, but its route was altered in 1937 so that the Farm Buildings now stand farther back from the road.
At the time of the Inclosure a number of Footpaths and Field-ways were stopped up or diverted, including one leading from the Wheatley-Little Milton Road over the Fields by Blagroves to Chippinghurst Ford & Mill.
The Railway from Thame to Oxford, completed in 1864, crosses the tip of the Parish & Thame Station was 6-miles & Tiddington 2½-miles distant.
Great Milton Village stands about 260ft up near the Eastern Boundary of the Parish and is well supplied with Springs. It is a large straggling Village, built mainly along both sides of a curving street running from the former ‘King’s Arms‘ & ‘The Limes‘ at the North-west end to the Green and the Monkery at the other end. From the Monkery, the Road descends past the Priory to the ‘Red Lion‘, which ceased to function as a Public House in 1959, and to the old Vicarage at the bottom of the Hill and then ascends again to the Medieval Church, standing in a commanding position about a ½-mile from the main part of the Village. Near the Church are the Manor-House, Romeyn’s Court (one of the 2 Prebendal Manor-Houses), and the Great House. It is possible that the Medieval Village may have once been nearer its Church than it is now, but at least by the 16thC, it had spread to the Ridge Road where it is now chiefly concentrated. Although there are a number of 19thC and later houses in ‘Town Street‘ there are still many 16th & 17thC buildings constructed of the excellent local Stone.
Great Milton, Church Road (Westside)
Red Lion House (by The Forties & Old Vicarage)
Public House, now house. Late 18thC. Colour washed roughcast with brick quoins; Welsh Slate Roofs with Brick Stacks. Double-depth Plan. 2-Storeys. Symmetrical 3-window Front has a Central Arched Doorway with 6-panel Door & semi-circular Overlight. Sashes have cambered gauged Brick Arches, and all openings have Brick Dressings. Hipped Roof has tall flanking Stacks & Wooden Eaves Soffit ornamented with shallow Modillion Blocks.
Many of these such as the ‘King’s Head‘ & the Butcher’s Shop next door have Cellars and were probably originally built for Tradesmen: these 2 are L-shaped and although re-Fronted in the 18thC are of 17thC date and typical of the style of the older houses.
The Oldest Cottages, a group of 16thC, lie on the South-east of the Green. They form a Row of 1-Storey & Attics: they are built of rubble Stone and are now colour-washed & most have Thatched Roofs. Most, too, have Leaded casements with Shutters on the Ground-floor & have Gabled Dormer windows. The Terrace ends with the Bull Inn, known to have been in the possession in 1684 of Robert Parsons, member of a substantial Great Milton Family of that Period. The appearance of the Group is enhanced by the well-kept grass Verge in front. To the West of the Green stood the ‘Bell‘ (an 18thC Public House restored in the 19thC), more Thatched Cottages, and the other of the 2-Prebendal Manor-Houses, the Monkery. Opposite, standing on the slope of the Hill with a Terraced approach above the Road level, is a Row of 17th & 18thC Stone Cottages. They have Brick facings, Thatched Roofs, Dormer casements, and also Ground-floor Casements.
About half-way between the Green and the Northwestern limit of the Village stands the 16thC house of the Pettys, in 1959 the House of the Village Schoolmistress. It is built of rubble with Ashlar quoins. Its Gabled Front faces the Village Street but is set back some way from it. It has Stone Mullioned windows of 4-lights on the Ground-floor, of 3-lights on the 1st-Floor & of 2 on the Attic Level. The House is connected to the Schoolroom which was added in the same style in 1854.
At the North-west end of the Village Street is a picturesque group of 18thC houses & a Block of 5 early-19thC Cottages. They are built of the local rubble Stone & have Thatched or tiled roofs. The Limes, once a large Farmhouse, is in part a Queen Anne House, which was added to and considerably altered in the early 18thC. It stands back from the Road behind a low Stonewall; its 2-Storeyed Street Front is of 5-Bays with a Pedimented Porch in the Centre. The Roof is Tiled and there is contemporary Panelling inside. A Wing of 17thC date extends Eastwards and the detached Block of L-shaped Stable Buildings to the right of the House is probably also of this date.
The early 19thC Cottages & Houses are constructed of Brick and are usually Roofed with Welsh Slate; the 20thC Bungalows & Houses are mostly roughcast or built of Brick.
The Parish was singular in the 16th & 17thCs for the number of Gentleman Families that made their home there, particularly at Great Milton. Its high position, good water, the excellence of the Stone from the Quarries of Great & Little Milton, Wheatley or Haseley, which was easily available for Building, were doubtless the cause. Signs of these small Quarries can still be seen in the Upper Portland Beds containing a layer of Sandy Freestone with a maximum thickness of 6ft. Robert Plot says that the Little Milton Quarries were still of ‘considerable use‘ in the 2nd half of the 17thC.
Among the Families that resided at Great Milton in the 2nd half of the 16thC were those of Edgerley, Calfhill (Caulfeild), Grene, Parsons & Westfalling; and in the 17thC in addition to the Parsons & Grenes, who still appear in the Register, there are the names of Astrey, Aldworth, Purefoy, Smith, Petty, Philipson, Cave, & Meetkerke. Sir Herbert Croft’s child was Baptised in the Church, but he does not seem to have been a Resident. A number of the Houses in which these Families lived still survive. They rebuilt or modernised the 2-Ancient Prebendal Houses & the Manor-House, and probably built anew the Priory & The Great House.
The Monkery, as the Farmhouse of Milton Ecclesia was called in the 19thC, is mentioned as early as 1318, when Master Gilbert de Segrave, the Prebendary, acquired without Royal Licence a small piece of land for the enlargement of his dwelling. At the end of the 16thC Prebendary John Sled, son of a Great Milton Gentleman, lived there. Delafield says that he kept the ‘Parsonage House in his own hands‘. He was one of the richest men in the Parish and was buried in Great Milton Church in 1601. The Davis Family were the next occupants: Martha, John Sled’s daughter married William Davis and then the Vicar, Richard Attwood. William Davis (d.1635), her son by her 1st husband, inherited the Lease on her death in 1622 and resided there. His Widow Eleanor later took the house to her husband John Cave (d.1693), a relative of the Waterstock Family and later Vicar of Milton. He bought the House for £587 in 1650 and proceeded to enlarge it. Before Alteration, the house consisted of a Parlour, Hall, & 4 Bedrooms besides the usual Offices of a 17thC House. A new Hall, Parlour & Rooms over were built. In 1650 the House was described as having 12-Bays of Building, 8-Bedrooms, & 3-Garrets. There were 5-Outhouses, 3-Gardens, an Orchard, & 3-Fishponds. Cave died in 1693 in the House, where 3 of his sons had been born and was buried in the Church. Today (c.1959) the Monkery is a 3-Storey House built of rubble Stone and has a Hipped & Tiled Roof. There are 4 irregular Bays on the Road Front, a central Chimney with 3-Diamond Shafts and at the back of the house 2 large Stone Chimneys with Brick Shafts. Parts of the Building date from the 15thC, but there have been 16th & 17thC additions. To the East, there is a 16thC Stone Barn of 7-Bays with a Thatched Roof and to the South a 17thC one of 4-Bays with an old Tiled Roof. The Square Dovecot of Stone with a Louvred Dormer Head also dates from the 16th or 17thC. The House was modernised when Sir John Aubrey was Lessee in 1786–1826.
Isolated from the main part of the Village and half-way down the Hill leading to the old Vicarage and on to the Church lies The Priory, a well-preserved example of a 16th & early 17thC House. Its name, apparently of 19thC origin, is a mystery. It is possible that the House was built on the Site of Eynsham Abbey’s 13thC Barn, or Leland’s story that the House was on the Site of a Cell of Abingdon may have suggested the name. Incidentally, there is no evidence that Abingdon had Property in Milton, although it had in neighbouring Garsington.
The 17thC Vicarage has long been superseded. It was a ‘handsome‘ Tiled House of 4-Bays with Barn & Stables attached. It was replaced 1st by a House built by the Vicar, Richard Cornish (1726–9), and then by one built after the design of Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1867. The Old Vicarage has been the Residence since 1957 of Sir John Sleight, Baronet and a new Vicarage nearby, designed by Thomas Rayson, was completed in 1956 for the Rev E P Baker.
The Vicarage – now a House. 1867. By Sir A W Blomfield. Coursed squared Limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings; old plain-Ttile Roof with Stone Stacks. Irregular U-plan. 2-Storeys plus Attics. 4-window Front has large Gable to Left Bay & slightly projecting Gabled Bay 2nd from Right. Large Stone mullioned & transomed Windows under relieving Arches. Bay between Gables has a large double-transomed Window with stained glass and a 4-light Hipped Roof Dormer. Arched Entrance in left return wall. Stone parapets to all Gables. Rear has Bay Window & prominent Stacks to Gables of projecting Wings. Unaltered appearance.
Today the Priory has 2-Storeys & Attics and is built of the local rubble Stone with Ashlar Quoins & Dressings. The North elevation has triple Gables with moulded copings and small finials. Each Gable has a 2-light Attic Casement, stone-mullioned & Leaded, and with a drip-mould above. On the 1st Floor, there are 3 similar 3-light Windows and one of 2-lights, but the Ground-floor Windows are of later date. The central Doorway over which is a Cartouche with the Arms of Boyle gives access to a Hall with a wide low-arched Tudor Fireplace. The ceiling retains its original Oak Beams.
The Chief Ground-floor Room has a similar Fireplace & Ceiling. The principal rooms, one above the other, extend the whole width of the House and are panelled in Oak. The tradition is that Dr Westfalling, a Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1565, originally built the Priory, perhaps as a Refuge from the Plague in Oxford. He was consecrated Bishop of Hereford in 1585 and presumably left Milton as he died in Hereford in 1601. Later Dr John Wilkinson, President of Magdalen, bought the House and lived there with his nephew Henry. The Arms of Wilkinson were once emblazoned in a window. A friend and visitor, according to Delafield, was John Thurloe (1616–68), Secretary of State. Thurloe later Leased the House; it was said to be his favourite residence, and according to Village tradition both Oliver Cromwell & John Milton visited him there. In 1742, when Delafield was writing, William Eldridge (d.1716) had the House; he was the grandson of another William Eldridge who was the 1st of the Family to have it. The Gardens are arranged in a series of Terraces, connected by a Flight of wide Stone steps leading to a Jacobean Door. The House is separated from the Road by Stone Walls in which there are 2-Gateways of late 18thC date. They have moulded Caps & Ball Finials to the Piers.
Priory Great Milton
Farther South still and on top of the Hill stands the Church with the Manor House, the Great House (Milton House), and Romeyns Court grouped round it. With the well-kept Churchyard, their Gardens, and Parklands they form a striking group and have considerable aesthetic and Historic interest.
Great Milton, Church Road (East side) The Manor House & Garden, Walls to rear.
Manor House, now a Hotel. Late 15thC late 16th early 17thC & late 17thC; much extended about 1908 by E P Warren. Limestone rubble with some Ashlar Dressings; old plain-Tile Roof & Brick Stacks. H-Plan. 2-Storeys plus Attics. Front has low 3-Window central Range, roughcast at 1st-Floor, with doorway to left of centre. Old double-boarded Door has moulded frame and early 18thC flat Hood on wooden Consoles. 3-Roof Dormers, front Stack & all Casements are 20thC, 17thC Stack with 4-Diagonal Shafts to right. Late 17thC projecting Cross Wing to left has Ashlar Storey Bands and flush Banding. It retains a 2-light Stone mullioned Window with a Label in the Gable but has been much altered. Corresponding early 17thC Wing to right has been rebuilt as the Central Main Entrance of the extended House, but retains two 2-light mullioned Windows in its left return wall; the lower with Label, the upper with straight Hood and both having Ovolo chamfers.
Rear has 4 Gables, the central pair a 17thC infilling of the H-Plan with several straight-chamfered mullioned Windows and at least one original Cross Window. The Rear of the left Wing has its original pattern of Cross Windows, the Right Wing has 4-light mullioned Windows with ovolo chamfers and there are similar Windows in a Bay further to the Right & flush with the Gable. The Rear Entrance, opposite the Front Door, has an old 2-panel Door. The remainder of the House is in similar mullioned style with Dressings of orange Cotswold Stone & irregular Parapeted Gables.
Interior: Several bolection-moulded Fireplaces and one with a Tudor Arch & recessed spandrels; a Panelled room with pulvinated frieze; late 17thC dogleg Stair with heavy turned Balusters & Ball Finials to the Newels. The central Range has the remains of a through Passage with a Tudor-arched wooden Door frame at the rear and an Arched opening to the left. The Floor with heavy chamfered & stopped joists to right of the Passage is an early 17thC insertion into an Open Hall built 1474-7, of which there survive some heavily jowled Posts at 1st-Floor and the Tie Beams (and possibly more) of the Roof. The Hall was built for William Radmyld. Partly 17thC rear Garden of coursed Limestone rubble extends from the left of the House & across the rear of 1st Garden, passing around 2 sides of a square Pond at a lower level. Stone steps to Pond lead down through a Tudor-arched Doorway with recessed spandrels & 3 rectangular openings with baluster mullions give view outwards. There is also a plainer 4-centre arched doorway. On one angle of the wall is a Stone Column with square head bearing a Sundial on one face; probably 17thC.
Dovecote. Probably C17. Limestone rubble with old plain-Tile Roof. Circular Plan. Entrance to South and inserted Loft Door to North. Conical Roof with Tiled Glover.
The Manor House stands on the Site of a 13thC house known as Ingescourt and once was occupied by William Inge. In the early 15thC, it seems to have been used as a Dower House by Joan, the Widow of Sir Richard Camoys, the son of Sir Thomas Camoys of Agincourt fame. The Deed giving her possession on her husband’s death was Executed at Great Milton in 1416. In the 1470’s & 1480’s, when William Radmylde was Lord, some of the Old House seems to have been demolished, and a new Hall & Chamber were erected and repairs were carried out. John Sewy, a Mason of Reading, undertook in 1475 to ‘new make‘ the Stonework of the Hall, making the walls 16ft high, putting in a Chimney at the upper end, 10ft broad & making 2-Bay windows of Freestone, 8ft wide, on either side of the Hall and another at the Upper end. They were to be Embattled and be made with ‘double Storey clear lights‘. Sewy also undertook to make the Stone walls of a new Chamber on the Southside of the Court and to make a number of Buttresses including one to support a Gallery. Richard Welch, a Carpenter of Abingdon, did the Carpenter’s work on the new Hall & Chamber and another from Chalgrove was also employed. The Freestone was supplied by Thomas Mason of Wheatley from the Wheatley Quarries, some of the Timber came from Coombe in Great Milton, and the Tiles from Nettlebed. Camoys (‘Cames’) Barn & English Barn, an Oxhouse & a Hoghouse, were among the Outhouses repaired. It was the remains of these extensive Buildings, presumably, that Leland saw when he visited Milton in 1548. In 1566 Alexander Calfhill (Caulfeild) Leased the House and lived there quietly for 14-yrs. Many of his children including Sir Toby Caulfeild, 1st Baron Charlemont, were born at Great Milton. Attempts were made by the Dormers in 1580 to get possession and Calfhill complained that he was obliged to keep a large number of Servants at his House to Defend his Rights. By 1588 Sir William Grene was in occupation of the Manor-House. A Deed of 1611, which mentions its Orchards, Gardens, Pond, & Pigeon-house, states that he was then living there. Apart from some slight remains of the Medieval Hall the oldest part of the present Building probably dates from about 1600 or a little later and may have been built by the Grenes or possibly by Sir George Coppin, who purchased the House in 1613. It was considerably extended to the South & North in 1908. The Walls surrounding the Grounds & the original Entrance to the House are 17thC. There is a contemporary Gateway to the Road with Obelisk Finials.
The Great House or Milton House stands immediately to the West of the Church. It was lived in by the Smith Family in the 1st Quarter of the 17thC and was presumably rebuilt by them. John Smith was a Royalist and a Benefactor of Trinity College, who was heavily Fined in 1649 for his Aid to the King. The House was rated at 8-hearths for the Hearth Tax of 1665. The Family intermarried with the Skynner Family, of which the most important member was Sir John Skynner, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. He was born at Great Milton, inherited the House from his mother, retired to it in about 1786, and lived there until his death in 1805. After Skynner’s death, the House devolved to the Rt Hon. Richard Ryder, Home Secretary, as his wife Frederica Martha was the Judge’s only daughter.
Great Milton, Church Road (West side)
The Great House (Formerly listed as Milton House)
Large House. Rear Wing, 16th/17thC; Front Range late 17thC early 18thC; Garden Range dated 1788 on Rainwater Heads. Garden Range almost certainly by James Wyatt for Richard Ryder, Home Secretary. Coursed limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings; Ashlar; old plain-tile & Welsh Slate Roofs with Brick & Stone Stacks. U-Plan. 2-Storeys + Attics. 7-window Front, with Plinth, plain Parapet and heavy moulded Cornice, is divided 2:3:2 with the Side Bays breaking forward. Central glazed Door has moulded Stone Architrave & flanking fluted Pilasters supporting a Flat Hood. All Windows have early Sashes with thick glazing bars & are framed by moulded Stone Architraves with Aprons. Hipped Roof, with 5-Hipped 2-light Dormers arranged 1:3:1, has tall Stone Stacks projecting from the end Walls with Brick Shafts.
7-Window 2-Storey Garden Range to left, in Ashlar with 1st-Floor Sill Band & moulded Cornice, has 2-Storey, 3-Window Semi-circular Bay to the right of centre and, to the right of it, a Tripartite Sash window at Ground Floor. Sashes are all large with very thin glazing bars. A shallow hipped Welsh Slate Roof is concealed by the plain Parapet.
Early Rear Wing to the right of Front Range, with a Stone, moulded Gable Parapet with projecting Kneelers & a large projecting lateral Stack, has been re-Windowed with Sashes including a Tripartite Sash.
Interior: Central Hall has late 17thC Panelling with Arched Panels over the Fireplace. Garden Range contains an ante-room with distyle in antis Doric Screen supporting a 3-centred Central Arch, a bow-ended Drawing Room with delicate honeysuckle Frieze & marble Fireplace with relief panel of Muse of Music, and a 3-Window Saloon with similar frieze and a Marble Fireplace with central Panel of a Cherub driving a Chariot containing a Lion & a Goat. 2 late 18thC Stairs, both with wreathed Handrails & stick Balusters.
Barns, Stables & Coach House. Early 18thC; possibly partly earlier. Coursed Limestone rubble with timber lintels and some Ashlar Dressings; old plain-tile Roof. L-Shaped Range. Barn Range to rear now has additional Dorways & some blocked Slits. Stable & Coach House Range, running forward from right, has Doors & tall Windows under Stone Flat Arches, and 2 Carriage Entries under 3-centred Arches with Keyblocks, enclosing fielded-panel double-leaf Doors.
Interiors: Higher Barn to left has 3-Bay clasped-Purlin Roof braced from wall posts; 6-Bay Barn to right has 19thC Roof; Stable & Coach House Range has a clasped-Purlin Roof with upper-Cruck Trusses and possibly-earlier elements including an arch-braced Collar & some curved Windbraces. Several Cross Walls have Timber-framed Gables with Brick infill.
The present House has an early Georgian Front of 5-Bays with a recessed Centre. It is built of Stone and has 2-Storeys & Attics. There is a moulded Cornice & Parapet, and a Hipped Roof covered with Tiles. All the Windows have Stone Architrave-surrounds and the upper ones have Apron Sills. The central Door is in a wide Stone Doorcase framed by Doric Pilasters. The Gabled back of the House & the North Wing enclosing a small Courtyard are the oldest parts. The South Front is said to have been added in 1806 although the Rainwater Heads bear the date 1788. It is on a different level and is faced with Ashlar. The Front is of 7-Bays including a 2-Storey Segmental Bow with 3 Windows to the right-hand of the centre. Inside, the rooms have contemporary Marble Fire-places, and the Wing is approached from the old House by 3-steps and a Vestibule framed by Doric Columns. Ellis, writing in 1819, records that the Architect was ‘the late Mr Wyatt‘, i.e. James Wyatt (d.1813).
Romeyn’s Court is the other Prebendal House was occupied in Henry VIII’s Reign by Robert Edgerley (d.1551), a man of some wealth, and later by his Widow Agnes and her 2nd husband Sir Thomas Benger, Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth and Visitor of Oxford University. Sir Thomas was Leasing the House & Manor in 1552 and may have been responsible for the oldest part of the present Building. In 1650 it was described as an Ancient Manor-House, consisting of 9-Bays and 11-Rooms in addition to Garrets, Pantry, Milk-house, & so on. Its outbuildings included 2-Stables, a Stone Pigeon-house and a Gatehouse, and there was a Garden & an Orchard, well stored with fruit trees. The House was originally built in the shape of a U but the Centre has been filled in. It has 2-Storeys and is built of rubble Stone. The Roof is hipped and covered with old tiles. The North-West Front has side Wings of 2-Bays; the Windows are either of 18thC date or altered in the 19thC. The arched Stone doorway in the centre is also 19thC. A small Barn, dated 1868, and a group of Stable buildings, all stone-built, stand to the North-east of the House.
Great Milton, Church Road (West side)
Substantial House. Late 17thC, altered 18thC & 19thC. Coursed Limestone rubble & Ashlar Dressings; old plain-tile Roof with Brick Stacks on Stone bases. H-Plan, infilled. 2-Storeys + Attics. 6-Window Front has projecting 2-Window Wings, now altered with 19thC Sashes & canted Bay window to right, and a 19thC Crenellated infill centre section with a central 4-centre arched Doorway & small 4-pane Sashes. Hipped Roof has central 3-light Roof Dormer, flanking lateral Stacks & a Ridge Stack to the left of centre. Rear, with moulded Wooden Cove & 20thC infill at Ground Floor, has some 18thC sashes under Brick Segmental Arches and shows alterations of various dates including 2 blocked original Window openings under Stone Flat Arches and traces of the former 2:3:2 arrangement of Bays. 4 Roof Dormers.
Interior: Spine passage has late 17th early-18thC Stair with bobbin-turned Balusters to right & early 19thC Stair to left. 18thC plaster cornices. Butt-purlin Roofs with some cambered collars. 4 purlins, possibly re-used, have carved nail-head decoration similar to that on the 16thC Gate Arch to the Manor (qv)
A Post Windmill, near Holland Farm with Roundhouse, Tailpole, Weathering & Cartwheel, built in 1820 was demolished in 1910.
Milton’s other Hamlets, the 2 Chilworths & Coombe, had disappeared long before Ascott’s decline. In 1739 Chilworth Farm, Tenanted by Edward Hedges, which was about all that was left of one of the Chilworths, was burnt down with all its Outhouses. The Landlord, Sir Edward Simeon, Bart, rebuilt the House & Hedges obtained a brief to cover his personal losses. The present Chilworth Farm is mainly of this date but may incorporate parts of an earlier House. The 2nd Hamlet in Chilworth may have centred around the other Farmstead in the Township, Wheatley Bridge Farm. As the Lords of Chilworth Valery & Chilworth Musard each had land in both the Hamlets the Descent of the Property does not help to identify precisely either of the Chilworths.
The approximate position of Coombe is indicated by the Field-names compounded with ‘combe‘ recorded from the 15thC and marked on the Tithe Map to the East of Chilworth Farm, where in fact the land forms a natural combe.
Great Milton Tithe Map Index
Great Milton-Chilworth Tithe Map 1841
Great Milton-Township Tithe Map 1842
Little Milton Tithe Map 1839
Tithe Map of Ascott Park 1838
The Parish has been associated with a remarkable number of interesting Persons. Most have already been mentioned in connection with the Houses they occupied, but Thomas Delafield, Vicar, though mostly an Absentee, should not be omitted. He was educated partly at Milton School, was an assiduous Antiquary, and his works included –
History of Great Milton.
A Guide to the Architectural Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Oxford
The surviving Parish Records are the Chilworth Overseers’ Accounts (1691– 1819), the Great Milton Churchwardens’ Accounts from 1760, Vestry Minutes from 1822, and a Great Milton Overseers’ Account Book (1826–32).
The Records of the Chilworth Overseers of the Poor give a detailed picture. One Overseer was appointed annually, but in fact, substantial Farmers like the Welleses of Wheatley Bridge Farm & Lower Farm or the Hedges of Chilworth Farm served for many years. Poverty was not a serious problem during most of the 18thC: until 1783 £8 to £15 a year was spent and there were only 3 or 4 people a year regularly needing Poor relief. The Overseers dispensed occasional relief by buying Wool to be made into Stockings, or by paying for Rent & Food or Medical Attention & Nursing. From 1785 they Rented Moor House as a Pest-House, and cases of Smallpox were sent to it in 1786. Other payments included the normal ones for resettling Paupers in their own Parish, for the care of Bastards, and for such items as providing Militia Men for the Parish. From 1783 expenditure began to rise, at 1st to about £40 a year, then to £80 by 1798, to as much as £202 in 1802, and to an average of £150 a year from 1810 to 1819. Both the Speenhamland & Roundsman Systems were adopted in the Parish and large sums were spent on supporting the Families of the unemployed and in supplementing wages.
The problem of Unemployment was common to all parts of the Parish and in 1822 a select Vestry was set up. It met fortnightly at the ‘Bell‘, ‘Bull‘, or ‘Red Lion‘. Relief that year was given at the rate of 8d a day for a married man & 3d for his wife, 6d for a single man, 2d for boys, & 3d for women. Gravel-digging & Lacemaking were also subsidised by the Parish to provide Employment. There were 2 Overseers for Great Milton Township and they spent about £330 a year at this time, chiefly on weekly payments to as many as 30 people; a large proportion of the payment was for children. By the 1830s the Parish as a whole was spending about £1,000 a year on Relief, a Quarter the amount paid by Thame. The highest amount was spent in Little Milton: in 1835 £573-17s on relief in the Township, and £20 on removing Paupers to the Parish from which they came. Ascott spent only £68 since it was the most sparsely populated area.
Vestry Meetings were also held to manage the Open-fields. This function, however, was removed by the complete Inclosure of the Parish by the 1840s and many of the Vestry’s other functions by the transfer of Poor Relief to Thame Union in 1836. Poverty continued to remain a problem: in 1854 Chilworth spent £93 on poor relief, Great Milton £241, Little Milton £249, & Ascott £1.
The 1st notice of a Village School occurs in 1641 when Richard Milles, Gentleman, was presented in the Archdeacon’s Court for keeping a School in the Parish without a Licence; at the end of the Century the Vicar John Hinton kept a Grammar School, and one of his Pupils was Thomas Delafield, later Vicar of Great Milton. As Milton was a Peculiar there are no reports from the Vicars in answer to Visitation Inquiries which might throw light on Schooling in the 18thC. The 19thC evidence shows that a Sunday School was started in 1800; that by 1805 there was a Charity School for boys & girls, supported by Mrs Ryder, the daughter of Sir John Skynner, and that there were a number of other small Schools. In 1808, besides the Charity School, attended by 20 children, and the Sunday School with 88 children, there was a School with 10 children, supported by voluntary subscription. ‘Great numbers‘, however, were said to have no means of Education. In 1815 there were 5 small Schools for 80 children, run partly on the National Plan, but their Pupils left at 7 or 8-yrs of age to engage in Husbandry or Lacemaking. In 1818 there were 70 children in 3 Day Schools and it was said that many attended other Schools in neighbouring Parishes. The Milton Schools were all short-lived: 2 new Day Schools were opened after 1818 where 21 children were educated at their Parents’ expense and in 1835 there were said to be 6 Infant Schools in the Village beside the Day & Sunday School under the Vicar’s control. There was no adequate accommodation for the Church Day School: it was held in an Elizabethan House, once the home of the Petty Family, which was rented for £15 a year. The Vicar, Mr Ashhurst, considered this an excessive sum and exerted all his energies to obtain a new School. The National Society helped with Funds and in 1854 the National Mixed School was opened with accommodation for 150 children. It was enlarged in 1860. The School Accounts of 1868 show that it was largely supported by Private Subscriptions and a Government Grant although Kent’s Charity supplied some £21 and Rent from the Recreation Ground another £8 10s; the greater part of the income went on the Stipend of the Master, the Mistress, & Assistant who together were paid some £123. Children paid 2d. a week every Monday morning, and those who were unpunctual or irregular in attendance were not admitted. The average attendance was 80 in 1871, 93 in 1889, and 71 in 1903. In 1930 the School was reorganised as a Junior School for children up to 11 years; the Seniors walked to Great Haseley at 1st but were later transferred to Wheatley where they attended in 1956. The Great Milton School, which became controlled in 1952, had 55 pupils in 1943 & 71 in 1954.
William Young (d.1694), a member of a prominent local Family, Settled in Trust £100, the interest on which was to be laid out in Clothing. Sir John Doyley of Chislehampton (d. 1746) became, as a Trustee, Possessed of the Capital, and in the wreck of the fortunes of his Family, the money appears to have been lost. The Charity Moneys, at all events, were not payable c.1820 or subsequently.
John Jony Kent, a Great Milton Doctor who died in 1814, left by his Will £1,575 Stock, the interest of which was to be used for the Poor of the Parish, a portion of the Dividends being retained for the purchase of further Stock to be applied to the same Charitable purpose. Owing to various Legal delays the Charity was 1st Distributed in 1819; Greatcoats and Cloaks for the men and women were provided, and other clothing for the Children and sums of money were given in addition. The Charity Commissioners, when they reported c.1820, thought that the application of part of the income of the Charity to the purchase of further Stock for a longer Period than 21-yrs from the Testator’s Death would be irregular. Whatever course the Trustees may have taken in consequence of that Opinion, the value of the Stock had risen to £2,136 by 1891 and so remained in 1931. By 1864 it was the Practice to pay out of the income an annual contribution of £21 to the Village School and other contributions to the Village Coal & Clothing Clubs, and also to use the income in direct purchases of clothing. In 1903 & 1904 the money was distributed in clothing vouchers of varying value to every Parishioner, apart from skilled Artisans and those ‘in higher positions‘. Later it appears to have been spent in gifts of Coal to those who did not subscribe to the Coal Club. After that Club ‘died out‘ in 1923 it became the rule to use the money to distribute Coal to each Family, not being ‘property owners‘, at Christmas. In 1956-57 the distribution mainly took the form of weekly grocery vouchers for the elderly & indigent. The income was reduced from £64 to £59 in 1890 and further reduced to £53 in 1904; it remained at that figure in 1956–7. In 1931 and in 1956–7 a balance was left in reserve after Distribution.
Charles Robey Couling, of Romeyns Court, by Will, proved 1912, left £300 free of Legacy Duty to form ‘Couling’s Charity‘. The proceeds, after Investment, were to be applied to the purchase of Coal or other fuel to be distributed among the most deserving Poor Parishioners of Great Milton. The income, £10, was being applied in 1931 and in 1954-56 in the purchase of Coal, distributed in 1956 to 33 persons.
Mrs Kate Elizabeth Couling, of Romeyns Court, by Will, proved 1925, left £100 Free of Legacy Duty, the proceeds, after investment, to be applied to the upkeep of her own & her late husband’s Tombs in Great Milton Churchyard, ‘as an example of tidiness & attractiveness in the Churchyard‘. The Residuary Legatees agreed that the Legacy should be applied to the general upkeep of the Churchyard, special attention being given to the 2 graves. The money was invested in £98 stock to which in 1931 £20 was added upon the Vicar’s instructions. The annual Income appears to have amounted to c.£5 between 1928 and 1931 and to c.£4 in 1953–5. It was paid in the former period to the Treasurer of the Churchyard Fund and in the latter to the Churchwardens.