Little Milton

The Village lies in the Southern half of the Parish at about 190-ft above sea level and on a small Stream flowing into the Thame.  A sale catalogue of 1810 did not exaggerate when it wrote of the Village’s ‘salubrity of air and fine Springs of water‘.   It lies off the main Aylesbury Road, but Secondary Roads radiate from it to the neighbouring Villages.

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Michael Burghers – Map Of Oxfordshire 1677
Beautifully embellished Map of the county of Oxfordshire engraved by Michael Burghers for Dr Robert Plot’sThe 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.

The Village of Little Milton in Oxfordshire lies 6-miles South-east of Oxford.  It is small, containing less than a 100 houses, and in spite of recent development is still compactly centred on 3 converging Roads. It was previously a Township of some 1,300 acres, predominantly Arable, lying in the Parish of Great Milton, but in 1844 it became an Ecclesiastical Parish in its own right. The local Economy & Society, though no longer completely dependent on Agriculture, still bear strong marks of its influence, and the layout of Streets and& Buildings testifies to the close links that once existed between the entire Community and the Land . Little Milton remains an excellent example of a nucleated Farm Village with the Farmhouses, their Barns & Outbuildings clustered about them, lining the Streets to this day.  Not all of them continue to fulfil their original function-one, for example, now houses the Village Stores-but their former purpose is quite clear.

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Woodbine Cottage Haseley Road

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It has considerable Character and its Buildings are noticeably well kept with several Stone-built Farmhouses lying along the Main Street.  There are a number of 18th & late-17thC Houses, such as the former ‘Three Horse Shoes‘ & the ‘Lamb‘; others date from the period of general rural rebuilding, roughly 1570-1640, and these include the Manor-House; while at least one House goes back to about 1500.  The remains of a Medieval Village Cross were still standing in the early 19thC.

LtMiltonManorHouseThe Manor-House has been considerably altered in later Periods, but it was originally a 16thC house. It is a 3-Storey House built of rubble Stone with ashlar quoins.  The South Front is symmetrical with a slightly projecting feature of 3-Bays with 3-Gables. There is a moulded stone String over the 1st-Floor windows; some Stone mullioned windows and a central Doorway dating from the 18thC.  It has an Arched opening with a Fanlight.

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Of the smaller Ancient houses and by far the best-preserved stood next to the former Garage.  Built in about 1600 it still has all its original Fireplaces & mullioned windows and a restored Newel Staircase.  It has a small Cellar and 3-Floors, the top one forming an extensive Loft. Its plan is unusual: although the building is roughly T-shaped, the Chimney Stack is central at the crossing of the T and the Staircase is not attached to it as one would expect, but is at some distance from the Stack.  The South Gable has a Dovecot built in under the Attic windows.  The other Houses in the Village down to the 18thC are either L-shaped or simply rectangular, in nearly every case having entrance doorway, stack, and staircase in a line across the Centre of the building.  Typical of the L-shaped plan was Greystone Stores, which retains many features of c.1600 in spite of the drastic alterations to the ground-floor Facade. It has upper windows with moulded mullions, a Chimney-stack (slightly to the left of centre) with a rectangular stone base, and 3 diamond shafts of Brick with offset & toothed heads, and a cellar with a blocked mullioned Window, now well below Ground level. 

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The Plough – Public House, Church Hill (Above)

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Although the Village is predominantly Stone-built there are at least 2 Timber-framed Houses which may indicate that this type of construction was common before it was superseded towards the end of the 16thC by more expensive but more durable Building in Stone.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wellcottage.jpgWell Cottage at the Lower End of the Main Street retains some of its original Timbers and Wattle & Daub;  is of simple Rectangular Plan and originally had a Ground-floor Room on either side of a wide Central through Passage-the Building’s most remarkable feature.  There are corresponding Rooms on the 1st-Floor, one of them being divided into 2 by a Timber-framed Partition. In this case, too, a later Facade has been added, consisting of random rubble Limestone on the Ground-floor & modern Brick on the 1st-Floor, but the Timber-framing with its Wattle & Daub infilling shows clearly in the North Gable and at the rear of the Building.

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The Chimney Stack extends an inconvenient distance into the Dwelling-rooms and the random rubble walling cuts through the Timber-framing in the North Gable, these 2 factors together suggesting that the Stack may be a later insertion.  The House is probably of late 16thC date. The widely spaced Timbers and the Curving Braces in the Walls still persist, and the Infilling is still laid on a Base of coarse, heavy twigs. But inside the Building nothing of significance remains.  The inserted Stack at Well Cottage may also be of the 17thC.  A high proportion of Fireplaces is one of the major features of the rebuilding in Little Milton, and Harrison’s observation on the multitude of Chimneys lately erected’ certainly applies here.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hillviewfrontfacade.jpgThe other half-Timbered House, ‘Hill View’ (Haseley Road), a little below the Old Garage next to the Methodist Chapel, is of special interest. It is long, high, of rectangular plan, and with a later Stone Facade with Wattle & Daub filling and an original window opening. Some very early Timber Framing can be seen on the 1st-Floor at the back.  This, together with the curving wind-braces in the Roof and the moulded Posts & arched Braces in one of the Bedrooms, suggests that the house was built c.1500 or even earlier.  Like many other Medieval & sub-Medieval Dwellings throughout the Country it has been provided with a completely new Facade in the course of the Centuries, and it has been extended by 6 or 7-ft at the West end, with an additional Chimney Stack incorporated in the ExtensionThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hillviewrear.jpgIt is not until one looks at the Rear of the simple, Rectangular Building that its true age becomes more apparent.  The heavy, widely spaced Timber-framing, the Wattle & Daub infilling, the small blocked 2-light Window under the Eaves, all argue a 16thC date at the latest.  The Interior evidence is even more decisive.  The Structure is one Room thick and is divided laterally by 3-heavy Trusses, irregularly spaced and consisting of a Tie-beam & Collar-beam that are both slightly Cambered with the former supported by 2 Arch-braces.  There were probably 2 similar Trusses in the Gable Walls before these were rebuilt in Stone. The whole is surmounted by a Ridge-tree.  The construction of the Roof is exposed in the dilapidated East end of the Building, where great curving Wind-braces support the single Purlin, but the most interesting feature of all is the pair of massive, double-chamfered Arch-braces to be seen in the Central part of the dwelling on the 1st-Floor. It is clear from these that the present low ceiling there was originally open and, furthermore, that this was once the Principal Room in the House. 

The manner in which one of the Arch-braces is embedded in the Stone Facade proves that the Stonework is a later replacement of the original Timber Front. Moreover, the moulded Arch-braces, as they stand at present, are not centrally placed between Truss, (shown as TI on the Plan) and the great Stone Chimney Stack, a lack of symmetry that is immediately suspicious even at such an early date as this.  They are, however, midway between Trusses 1 & 2.  The Central Stack must therefore have been inserted, probably in the late 16th or early 17thC, as a concession to comfort in a House which originally had no proper Fireplace, and which must have previously depended for warmth on Braziers or a Central Hearth in the Main Hall, with the Smoke escaping through a Hole or Louvre in the Roof. It is also probable that the Hall was originally on the Ground-floor and was open to the Arch-braced Roof, in which case it would have been 20-ft long by some 15-ft wide by about 22-ft high. On this assumption the 1st-Floor between Trusses 1 & 2 was inserted at the same time as the Central Stack, and a proper Staircase was also built then (the present Staircase lying against the Rear Wall of the House and near the Stack is not original, but it is probably in or very near its original position). Before it was introduced the 1st-Floor Rooms on either side of the Hall must have been reached from below by some form of Stair-ladderHill View was originally occupied by a person of Substance-its size alone makes this clear and the evidence suggests that it was built around 1500.  It is easily the oldest surviving House in the Village and provides considerable information about the old Timber Building tradition there. The fact that it was a House of importance means that certain features, like the moulded Arch-braces, were uncommon, but the Ground-floor Hall, despite its size & imposing appearance, was similar in principle to those found in the humbler dwellings of Little Milton at that date.  Other features must be typical of that earlier local style of Building-the heavy Timbers, the widely spaced Studs and the frequent use of Curving Supports to take the strain of Wind & Weight.  There is none of the close Studding that is to be seen, for example, in some of the surviving sub-Medieval houses in Abingdon & Burford.  In Little Milton even such a House as Hill View suffered from the shortage of good building material. it now occupies only half of the original building which once had a Central through Passage with a Ground-Floor Room on either side. The confusion & uncertainty of the 1640s brought home to the Villagers by the Battle in 1643 at nearby Chalgrove, must have put a firm stop for some time to any ambitious local building activity.  Before that this activity was typical enough.  In some cases the easier course was taken and an existing Dwelling was merely improved.  It was at this Period that the massive Central Stack was inserted at Hill View, and perhaps the new Stone Facade was added then.  Hill View with its 7 or 8 Rooms was already a Large House. The majority of the Yeomen & Husbandmen in the Village elected to build completely new Houses, to replace their Timber-framed Dwellings with more costly Stone Structures. Within little more than a Generation the face of Little Milton was almost completely changed.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is frogmorecottage.jpgFrogmore Cottage (above), outside the Village, is another 17thC example of the Rectangular Plan and of a House with a large Loft, reached through a Trapdoor.  It is unusual, however, for the way in which a later House has been joined to it at only one Corner, a feature which may have been dictated by the Marshy nature of the ground.
Frogmore Cottage. Late 17thC. Coursed limestone rubble with Timber Lintels; concrete plain-tile Roof with Brick Gable-Stacks. 2-Unit Plan. 2-Storeys.  Broad Door to left of Centre is flanked by 3-light casements at Ground & 1st Floors. Gable Walls have Chimney projections with tumbled Brick weatherings, and partly-renewed Stone Gable Parapets.  Rear has 4-light wood mullioned window at 1st-Floor and most of similar Window below, now Internal.
Interior: Heavy chamfered & stopped Beams at Ground & 1st-Floors; central Timber-framed cross Partition survives Upstairs and has curious moulded & carved Jowl to Post. A broad Stair with Winders rises towards the Entrance. 18thC Thatched former Cottage pair to left, attached by one Corner, has been extensively remodelled.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hillviewltmiltonplan.jpgTwo Houses, those known as The Garage & The Greystone Stores, are admirable examples of the new style of Building.  The former, dating from about 1600 or soon after, is in fact the best preserved House of all.  It stands at Right-angles to the Street and a little away from it, and is built of rubble Limestone with a Roof of handmade Tiles, though it was probably Thatched originally.  It still has its original Ovolo-mullioned Windows and its 4 Fireplaces, 2 on each Floor, with their flattened Arches and simple recessed Spandrels.  Some of the fittings on Windows & Doors are also original, as is the Wainscotting below the East window in the Hall.  The most interesting feature of the House is the Plan, which is T-shaped, though not of the standard type. In fact it seems to lie half-way between the T-shape & the L-shape, for the projecting Wing is not at the end of the Main Block but midway at the Rear.  As a result the Structure is physically centred around the Stone Stack, which is also its outstanding Architectural feature.  There have been so few insertions & later alterations that it is simple to reconstruct the original disposition of the Rooms. The Main, and once the only, External Doorway opened directly into the Hall-cum-Kitchen, which probably had a Spere or Screen as a protection against the draughts, but certainly not the Partition that it has today.  The Parlour, sharing the Central Stack, was tucked comfortably away in the projecting Wing, and the Buttery or General Service Room lay beside the Hall. The 3 Rooms or Chambers on the 1st Floor echo those on the Ground-floor, and above them is the Loft, well lit, extending over the whole of the House and providing ample space for Storage, and for extra Sleeping Accommodation if required.  The advantages & attractions that a house such as this must have held for a Jacobean Farmer are many.  It looks imposing, in spite of its small scale.  It is solidly built, roomy & conveniently, indeed superbly, planned.  It has the added refinement of a Cellar beneath the Buttery, with a handsome central Newel Stair, independent of the Stack, rising from it to the Loft at the Top.  There are other signs of careful Craftsmanship.  The Gable Trusses in the Roof are set flush with the inner faces of the Stone walls, and outside there are several rows of Pigeon-holes in the West Gable, accommodating enough Birds to provide the Household with a fair amount of unsalted flesh to vary its Winter Diet.  There is no difference in status between a Dovecot in a House or a Dovecot as a separate Building. The holes were for Breeding not Roosting. and Dovecots are always built in a Southern or Western Wall.  In the Middle-Ages Dovecots could only be erected by the Lord of the Manor, and this distinction applied to Ecclesiastical Property also. Before the Reformation no one except the Lord did in fact erect them, but between the Reformation and the mid-17thC  Landowners built them without leave. From the Restoration onwards any restriction had disappeared.  Dovecots could be profitable.  In 1620 Robert Loder who, as Lord of one of the 2 Manors of Harwell, Berks, was the legitimate Owner of a large Dovecot, made a total profit of £8-14s-1d on the sale of Pigeons and their Dung.  The latter, with its high nitrogen content, was a particularly valuable fertiliser.

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The Greystone Stores (Above & Fig 21), standing parallel to the Street and built a little later than The Garage, is not so well preserved. The Facade has been greatly altered, quite a number of the ovolo-mullioned Windows have been blocked, a strengthening Buttress has been added to the South Gable Wall, and a Lean-to enclosing a large Oven has been built on to the Rear.  In essence, however, it is well in keeping with the tradition of the Great Rebuilding. It is Strongly & Roomily constructed, of simple L-shaped Plan and with plenty of Window space. There is a massive Central Stack, originally containing 4-Fireplaces, with a framed Staircase adjoining it.  Here, too, the Parlour lies by itself on one side of the Stack, the Hall being on the other side with the Buttery or General Service Room leading off it.  There are 3-Chambers which, if one ignores a later Partition, were once similarly disposed on the 1st-Floor, together with a little Chamber over the Entry lying between the Stack and the Front Wall & Opening off the Chamber over the Parlour.  Above the Chambers there is again a spacious, well-lit Loft running over the whole of the House, with a Lath-&-Plaster Partition of 18th or 19thC date dividing the Main Block from the projecting Wing.  The Loft therefore must have been used for Sleeping as well as for Storage at some time.  A further feature is the Cellar beneath the Parlour.  It is a large one and is chiefly remarkable for the ovalo-mullioned, 3-light Window in its West Wall.  This is blocked because it is now below Ground-level, but it was clearly not so originally.  The fine Cellar was once well lit, an unusual refinement in a House of this standing at this date.  The Greystone Stores is not the excellent building that The Garage is, but there are some notable features in its construction.  Part of the Ceiling of the Cellar is coved out to support the Hearthstones of the Parlour Fireplace above, and this device is repeated in the Parlour itself.  The Beam in the Parlour Chamber has a chamfer consisting of a single Roll, and there is another, very fine one in the Parlour with a double Roll & Fillet and a recessed face (see Fig 23). There are also signs of a certain sophistication in the Exterior of the House. The symmetrical Facade with its blocked Centre window is reinforced with good-sized Ashlar Quoins. The structure is built of roughly hewn Masonry, almost random rubble, but this has been laid in fairly even, thick & thin Courses, though these do not alternate regularly. 

Fletcher Farm, lower down the Street, was probably originally of the simple Rectangular Plan.  It has a massive central Stack, Stone-chamfered mullions on the Ground Floor, and wooden ovolo mullions in the Front Windows of the 1st-Floor.  Half of the Loft space, reached through a Trap-door, seems to have been plastered over at some later date to provide extra Sleeping accommodation.  The Barn nearby has the date 1638 carved on a Beam, almost certainly the date of building of both Barn & House. 

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After the T & L-shapes of The Garage & The Greystone Stores, the later 17thC Houses surviving in Little Milton revert to the simple Rectangular Plan.  Fletcher Farm House (Above), standing at Right-angles to the Street, is a good example of this arrangement, and is also the earliest Dwelling in the Village to which a definite date can be confidently ascribed. The date, 1638, is actually Carved on a Beam in the Barn belonging to the House, but the Masonry of the 2 Buildings is so alike that there can be little doubt that they were erected at much the same time.  The dominating feature of the structure is its enormous Central Stack, of huge proportions in relation to the overall size of the Building.  The 2 Ground-Floor Rooms lie on either side of it and, though neither of the original Fireplaces has survived, the Parlour can be distinguished from the Hall-cum-Kitchen by its larger Windows and by a little more decorative detail on the Spine-beam.  The chamfered Beam in the former Room has a raised stop which dies away in a hollow curve, whereas the raised stop in the Parlour has an Ogee Curve and there is, in addition, a small lozenge on the face of the chamfer (see Fig 23, 2, 9).  The Hall itself, which still had a Floor of bare Earth until a decade or so ago, now has in its East Wall a smaller, modern replacement of the  mullioned, 3-light Window that was originally there, and there are 2 later extensions to the South, one very modern, the other of 18th or early 19thC date (it is shown on the Tithe Award Map of 1839).
Great Milton Tithe Map Index
Great Milton-Chilworth Tithe Map 1841
Great Milton-Township Tithe Map 1842
Little Milton Tithe Map 1839
It is probable, too, that there was originally no Doorway in the South Wall, for such an arrangement would have encouraged through draughts.  The narrow Staircase, typically placed and with a little turned Balustrade of 17thC date on the Landing, leads to 2 Chambers on the 1st-Floor.  Opening off the Parlour Chamber is a further small room over the Entrance Lobby, an arrangement similar to that in The Greystone Stores; and it seems, judging from the stops on the Beam & Joists in the Hall Chamber, that there was also originally a small Closet or little Chamber, about 6 or 7-ft square, in the South-east comer of that Room.  It probably had Walls of Wainscot, and it was the type of Room that we find occasionally described in contemporary Probate Inventories as being ‘within’ another (i.e. a Subdivision, not opening off it, which was the common meaning of the term).  A Trapdoor in the Ceiling of the Hall chamber leads to the Loft, which must always have been approached by a Ladder. This Top Floor, because of the Stack, is cramped, but it would always have been used for Storage, and it was evidently at a later date adapted for Sleeping Accommodation as well.  In the 18th or 19thC the Western Half was lined with Lath-&-Plaster, and a Room was contrived with a Ceiling at Collar-beam level and walls that dropped vertically from the lower Purlin. A further refinement was the Gap left in each Wall so that the space behind it could be used for Storage.  This arrangement, together with the existence of a Trapdoor between the Parlour and the Parlour Chamber, indicates that Fletcher Farm House, like The Garage, was once subdivided & occupied by 2 Families, one living in the Parlour and the Chamber above, the other in the Hall, Hall Chamber & LoftFletcher Farm House is no longer Thatched, none of the original 4-Fireplaces has survived intact, and a number of Windows are blocked, especially in the Loft and in the South Wall on the 1st-Floor; but there are some original Door & Window fittings remaining.  The Windows deserve further comment. The straight Chamfer, which can be no later than c.1638, has succeeded the Ovolo moulding on the Stone Mullions, but in addition to these there are 3-sets of Wooden Mullions in the 1st Floor Windows at the Front of the Building.  They are curious not only because they are Wooden whilst the others are Stone, but also because they combine Tudor & CIassical features in the Ovolo moulding with the Dentilled Course above. It is possible that they are a later, romantic insertion.  In all likelihood Fletcher Farm House was the last dwelling to be erected in Little Milton before the outbreak of the Civil War. Those that were built in the latter part of the 17thC, when the initial impetus of the rebuilding was over, were, judging by surviving examples, markedly inferior in appearance.  It seems that their windows, which were never as large as those in The Garage, did not have stone mullions.  These Houses retained the simple Rectangular Plan but dispensed with the Central Stack, which was replaced by a Staircase that was less cramped than those formerly fitted in between the Stack & the Rear Wall.  This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wellsfarmcottage2.jpgThe Fireplaces, numerous as ever, were now contained in one or both of the Gable walls, in Stacks projecting from the main structure, as in Frogmore Cottage (Fig 20), or in Stacks included in it, as in Wells Farm CottageI & Wells Farm Cottage II (Fig 23).” In all 3-cases the original Plan consisted fundamentally of Hall & Parlour on the Ground-floor, with 2 Chambers above them and a fairly well-lit Loft of typically generous proportions above those. The Loft in Wells Farm Cottage I was used for sleeping as recently as 1950. In addition both Wells Farm Cottages I & II have Cellars.  There are 2 houses known as Wells Farm Cottage in the Village. (Inset: Wells Farm Cottage II)

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The 19thC saw the addition of a Church of good design, built in an exceptionally fine position and surrounded by a beautiful Churchyard, which has been carefully kept up; of a Vicarage built c.1850; of a School & Schoolhouse; and of a Methodist Chapel.

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Former Tower Mill, Little Milton near the bend in Windmill Road.  Tower  Windmill Hill was in a state of decay in 1900 and was demolished in 1910.

By 1818 there was a separate Day School at Little Milton attended by 14 children & a Sunday School with 70 children.  The Day School seems to have closed within a few years, but a 2nd Sunday School with 60 children was started in 1827 by the Wesleyan Methodists.   By 1854 3 Day Schools had also been set up: one Parochial School with 48 Pupils, supported partly by subscription, partly by payments from Parents and 2 other Day Schools.  Each had 12 Scholars who were paid for by their Parents.  One of the Schools was for Infants only. The chief hindrance to educational progress was the early age at which children left School.  The Vicar described this as ‘an evil increasing yearly‘.  An Evening Class, held in Winter, for 20 young men was said to be quite successful.  

LtMiltonSchool

The present School was set up in 1861 with the help of the National Society and replaced the other Day Schools.  It had an average of 62 children in 1889 and was enlarged to hold 90 in 1893 but there were only 50 children attending in 1903.  The older children were transferred to Great Haseley in 1931 and Little Milton School became a Junior School for children up to 11-yrs.  There were 14 children in 1943 and 27 in 1954.

Charities
By Deed of 1673, the Rev Maurice Griffith and his wife Elizabeth gave £10 for the Benefit of the Poor of Little Milton, 1s-6d being given annually to each of the 4 poorest Families and 1s to each of the 6 next Poorest.  By 1786 the sum of £10 with the savings therefrom or from other money given for the Poor of Little Milton had accumulated to £24.  In 1821 the amount of the Dividends, £1-5s, was laid out in bread and distributed to about 20 Poor families of Little Milton.  Between 1929 & 1931 the income amounted to 13s. yearly and then and subsequently seems to have been distributed with the Grayson Charity (see below).

Catherine Grayson, Widow, of St Giles’ Parish, Oxford, by Will dated 1853, left £400 Stock in Trust to be laid out in Fuel & Clothing to be distributed on or within 10 days of Christmas between 6 Poor men & 6 Poor women of good character selected by the Incumbent of Little Milton, preferably those aged 60 or above.  The Legacy was invested in 1861 in £360 Stock.  Between 1954 & 1956 the income was £9 and was distributed, with the Griffith Charity, in Coal & Clothing to the 6 oldest men and 6 oldest women of the Parish of Little Milton.

Woodbine Cottage Haseley Road

Greystone Stores