The Church of Great Milton was certainly in existence in 1086 when its Priest was recorded, but as Great Milton was part of the Endowment of the See of Dorchester there can be little doubt that the History of the Church goes back to early Saxon times. In 1086 the Church and Manor were in the hands of the Bishop of Lincoln and by 1146 2 Prebends had been endowed from Milton, one of them, Milton Ecclesia, with the Church and the appropriated Benefice. Until 1844, when Little Milton and Ascot were separated from the Ecclesiastical Parish, this consisted of the Tithings of Great Milton, Little Milton, the Medieval Chapelry of Ascot, and Chilworth. Like other Prebends of Lincoln the Parish was until the 19th century an Ecclesiastical Peculiar, for all Prebendal Parishes were freed by Bishop Chesney (1148–66) from the Jurisdiction of Bishop and Archdeacon. As in the case of Thame, the Prebendary of Milton Ecclesia had Archidiaconal Jurisdiction and the Dean of Lincoln had the Right of Visiting every 3 years. Although the Bishop did not visit he Instituted to the Vicarage and the Chapter Inducted.
Milton Ecclesia Prebend, unlike Thame, was not Dissolved at the Reformation, but in the confusion of the Period, the Prebendary evidently lost his Jurisdiction, which passed to the Dean and Chapter. The Parish continued as a separate Peculiar and Visitations were probably held in Great Milton Church by the Commissary appointed by the Chapter, who was almost certainly the Commissary for Thame and the Chapter’s other Oxfordshire Peculiars. This was the case in the early 1670’s, but c.1675 the Vicar and Churchwardens began to attend the Visitations at Thame. From this time the Peculiar was formally that of Thame and Milton, although frequently it was called Thame Peculiar.
Since the Reformation sometimes the Bishop of Oxford and sometimes the Bishop of Lincoln has Instituted to the Vicarage. This appears to have been largely a matter of chance. For instance, when in 1782 the Prebendary was about to present a new Vicar, he was told by the Secretary of the Bishop of Oxford to send the Presentation to Oxford and by the secretary of the Bishop of Lincoln to send it to Lincoln. After finding out what had been done in the past, he sent it to Oxford.
Soon after 1800 Great Milton, unlike Thame, came under the ordinary Jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford and in 1802 it began to be Visited by the Bishop, but like Thame, it remained exempt from the Jurisdiction of the Archdeacon until the middle of the century. Great Milton Wills were Proved in the Peculiar Court until 1857.
Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (1123–48), who created Milton Manor Prebend, was probably also responsible for appropriating Milton Church. The Church had been appropriated by 1146 when the Endowment in Milton presumably consisted of the Advowson of the Vicarage, the Glebe, and part of the Tithes, the Bishop’s Demesne Tithes having been granted in 1094 or 1095 to Eynsham Abbey. The appropriated Rectory became part of the Prebend of Aylesbury, which until the mid-13th century was held by the Deans of Lincoln. As a consequence, Milton Church was described as a Chapel of Aylesbury. About 1260 Eynsham Abbey Farmed the Demesne Tithes for £1 13s 4d to the Dean of Lincoln, as long as he should be Prebendary of Aylesbury, arranging that the Abbey’s Servants should continue to collect them into the Abbey’s Barn; there is no later record of these Tithes in the Eynsham Cartulary. In 1290 Bishop Sutton created a separate Prebend of Milton Ecclesia, endowing it with the appropriated Rectory of Milton including, apparently, the Demesne Tithes.
The 17th-century Vicarage has long been superseded. It was a ‘handsome‘ tiled House of 4 Bays with Barn and 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 W Blomfield in 1867. The Old Vicarage has been the Residence since 1957 of Sir John Sleight, Bt, and a new Vicarage nearby, designed by Thomas Rayson, was completed in 1956 for the Rev E P Baker.
Vicarage, now a House. 1867. By Sir A W Blomfield. Coursed squared limestone rubble with ashlar dressings; old plain-tile Roof with Stone Stacks. Irregular U-plan. 2-Storeys plus Attics. 4-window Front has large Gable to left Bay and slightly projecting Gabled Bay 2nd from right. Large Stone mullioned and 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 and prominent Stacks to Gables of projecting Wings. Unaltered appearance. (V.C.H.: Oxfordshire, Vol VII, p.191)
The 1st known Presentation to the Vicarage was made by the Prebendary of Aylesbury in 1268. In the 14th century, when the Prebend of Milton Ecclesia was for many years held by foreign Cardinals, their English representatives usually Presented. In 1361 the Bishop Collated, probably through lapse, and in 1375 the Farmer of the Prebend Presented. In the 15th and early 16th centuries, the Prebendaries themselves Presented. After 1601 the Presentation to the Vicarage went with the Farm of the Prebend until the late 18th century, when the Prebendary again began to Present. In 1840 the Advowson was given to the Bishop of Oxford, who has since been Patron.
Among the Prebendaries of Milton Ecclesia (Monkery) have been many distinguished men, but they had little connection with the Parish beyond drawing money from it. The Prebend consisted of the Great Tithes from the Parish, the Tithes of Wool and Lambs, and the land belonging to the Church. In 1291 the Prebend was valued at £40; in 1535 its net value was £33 18s 6d and in 1650 it was worth about £250. In 1844 the Prebend’s Tithes were commuted for £850: £274 from Great Milton, £316 from Little Milton, £108 from Ascot, and £152 from Chilworth.
The Glebe belonging to the Church probably formed the basis of the Prebendal Estate, known in the 19th century as Monks Farm (or Monkery Farm). It consisted of 120 acres at the time of the Tithe Award. In 1650, when the Estate was Surveyed, besides the Prebendal House there were 2 Farms of 2 Yardlands each, worth £20 each, a Small-holding of 8 acres, and a Cottage. By 1844 these had been amalgamated into one Farm, which was exchanged at the Inclosure Award for 137 acres. In 1840 the Property, Land, and Tithes, was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
Little is known of the Administration of the Prebend before the Reformation, but it was no doubt Farmed, as it continued to be after the Reformation. In 1537 the Farmer was Richard Beauforest, who bought Dorchester Abbey at its Dissolution. In 1555 the Prebend was leased to New College for 60 years. At the end of the Century the Prebendary John Sled (1575–1601), who had been Presented by his father John Sled, Gentleman, of Milton, kept the Property in his own hands.
During the 17th century, the Lease was held by local Families who lived in the Prebendal House. The 18th-century Lessees had fewer connections with the Parish. Early in the Century the Lease was held by Sir Nathan Wright, who before his death in 1721 sold it to Richard Carter (d.1755) of Chilton (Bucks). It was he who Presented Thomas Delafield to the Vicarage. Carter’s daughter Martha married Sir Thomas Aubrey, Bt, of Boarstall (d.1786), and in 1844 the Lease was held by Trustees named in the Will of Sir John Aubrey (d.1826). The Rent continued at £40 a year, no doubt on the payment of a large Fine, and the usual term was for 3 lives.
The original Ordination of the Vicarage has not been found, but by the 16th century, and probably before, the Vicar had the small Tithes of the Parish except those of Wool and Lambs, which belonged to the Prebendary, and a large payment in kind from the Rectory. This was still being paid in kind in the 17th century, and consisted among other things of 12 quarters of barley, 5 of wheat, 3 of mixed corn (masley dine) and of beans, and several good loads of hay. In 1291 the Vicar was receiving £6 and in 1526 £9 6s. 8d. in 1535 the Vicarage was valued at £15, in 1650 at £60, and in 1808 at £138 10s. By 1808 the payment from the Rectory was being made according to the price of grain and in 1929 it was exchanged for an annual payment of £90. In 1844 the Vicar’s Tithes were commuted for £185. In 1842 the Living was augmented by about £35 a year, and in 1864 by another £38; in 1867 £800 was given towards a Parsonage House; in 1901 there was another augmentation of £26.
The 1st evidence about the Residence of Clergy at Milton comes from Domesday, where it is recorded that the Priest had a share in the 19 Tenant Ploughs; the next in 1228 when a Toft near the Church suitable for a Priest’s dwelling-house was obtained. As Milton was regarded as a Chapel of Aylesbury at this date the House was said to be for the Chaplain. By the 1260’s Milton had a Vicar: in 1268 James de Frestone was Presented on the death of the last Vicar. One Vicar early in the 14th century became a Franciscan; another died in 1349, probably from the Black Death. In the 15th century several of the Vicars were University Graduates, and one at least, John Kendall (1443– c. 1463), was a Pluralist, as was the 16th-century Master John Fisher (1531– c. 1554).
One of the most distinguished Vicars of Milton was John Howson (1601–7), later Bishop of Oxford and Durham, and a strong opponent of Puritanism. He was a Canon of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in 1602, but it is nevertheless probable that he was often at Milton. He was married in his Church in 1605 and his daughter was baptised there in 1607. During most of the 17th century the Living was held by 2 Resident Vicars, Richard Atwood (1608–58) and John Cave (Vicar 1661–93). Cave, who was also the Farmer of the Prebend, was living at Milton in the 1640’s. He may have had Puritan sympathies, for in 1646 he took the place of the dispossessed Rector of Middleton Cheney (Northants). In 1661 he became Vicar of Great Milton. Like others in the Parish he had trouble with his Churchwardens, and was Presented for not paying part of his Church-rate and for not providing Rushes and Straw for the Church. The Dormers of Ascot and several people of Little Milton were also Presented for refusal to pay the Church-rates.
For the greater part of the 18th century the Parish suffered from absenteeism, but between 1693 and 1723 it was fortunate in having John Hinton as Vicar. Born in a Great Haseley Cottage, he was considered by Delafield to be a ‘polite, well-bred, ingenious man, a good scholar, a pious Christian, and a generous friend‘. He started a Grammar School for the Village. In his old age he was assisted by an unreliable Curate, ‘a licentious unassuming person of little learning‘. His successor Thomas Delafield, one of Milton’s best-known Vicars (1724–6, and 1737–49), was consistently non-Resident, even though Richard Cornish (Vicar 1726–9) had built a new Vicarage. Delafield’s successors throughout the Century likewise lived out of the Parish.
As Milton was not subject to the Bishop’s Visitations, little is known of the Religious Life of the Parish at this time. Early in the 19th century, during the long incumbency of Thomas Ellis (1800–48), frequent Services were held, 2 on Sundays and 5 Communion Services a year. Attendance was good; there were at least 50 Communicants and the number increased in the early years of the Century. Ellis’s main complaint was about the underpayment of his Parish Clerk, who received about £2 a year in Fees and £2 for minding the Clock, with the result that Clerks were often unsuitable or illiterate.
By the mid-19th century Congregations of 250 to 300 were reported. Out of 564 adult Parishioners, about a 3rd were Communicants, a 5th were good attenders, a quarter were ‘middling Churchmen’, and the 20 others Dissenters, according to an analysis made by J H Ashhurst (1848–56), Vicar in Bishop Wilberforce’s day.
Before Ellis’s death Little Milton and Ascot, which were separate tithings, were in 1844 separated from the Parish of Great Milton, which continued to include Chilworth, and were formed into a District Chapelry. Little Milton and Ascot had each had a Medieval Chapel. That at Ascot was a Private one attached to the Manor-House. Of the Chapel of St James at Little Milton little is known. The light endowed with land in Little Milton may have been either in the Chapel or in Great Milton Church. The Chapel had certainly gone by the mid-18th century, when the Chapel Yard was known as ‘Chappel Heys‘.
A new District Church was built at Little Milton in 1844, and a few years later a Vicarage. The Patronage of the Living, since 1868 a Vicarage, belonged to the Vicar of Great Milton for life and then to the Bishop of Oxford. It was endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with £95 a year in 1845 and in 1864 with a further £150 a year.
As soon as the Church was opened, frequent Services, 2 on Sundays and Holidays, and Daily Prayers with a Lecture during Lent, were held. The Vicar, however, complained that the Congregation of about 160 was not large enough for the Parish and did not increase. He had to fight indifference and an active Methodist Community.
The Parish Church of St Mary comprises a Chancel, Nave, North and South-aisles, South Porch with Parvise above, and a Western Tower. In the main, it dates from the 14th century, but there are considerable survivals from earlier Periods. The earliest parts of the structure belong to a 12th century Building, which is likely to have consisted of Chancel and Nave only. Of this Church one deeply splayed window survives in the North Wall of the chancel and the outlines of 2 blocked-up windows can be seen in the Spandrels of the North Arcade in the Nave.
Early in the 13th century the Chancel Arch was rebuilt and the Chancel may have been extended to its present size, though this enlargement probably did not take place until the following century. An original Lancet window still survives in the South Wall. The Nave was enlarged by the addition of Aisles, perhaps of about half the width of the present Aisles. They are divided from the Nave by Arcades each of 3 Arches. These Arcades exhibit certain peculiarities whose significance in the Architectural History of the Church is not clear. The circular Columns are irregularly spaced, and the Western Arch of the Southern Arcade lacks the mouldings of its fellows. In addition the mouldings immediately above the Capitals of the Eastern Column of both North and South arcades are interrupted on the sides facing the Aisles in a manner which is difficult to explain. Both Arcades appear, however, to be more or less contemporary, for, with the exception mentioned above, the mouldings of their Arches correspond to those of the Chancel Arch with one additional member. It is likely that the richly moulded Early English North doorway, which is certainly not in its original position, was once the 13th-century South Door.
It is probable that the 13th-century building was severely damaged by Fire, for all the cut Stone moved at the time of the restoration of 1850 was found to have Early English moulding on the inside and fresh moulding cut on the reverse side to match the Decorated work of the 14th century. Every Early English Stone found had been burnt.
In the early 14th century the Church was largely rebuilt, the material of the old building being reused. The Aisles were widened and new windows with ‘Decorated’ Tracery were inserted. The East window and 4 two-light windows were inserted in the enlarged Chancel; the Nave walls were raised and a Clerestory of 6 quatrefoil lights added. A new South door, a vaulted South Porch with a carved Boss, the Room over it, and a Staircase Turret were built. The Buttresses on this side of the Church are of the same Period; they are ornamented with Niches surrounded by Crocketed Canopies and Finials; a Parapet with Gargoyles runs above. In the South Aisle there is a 19th-century copy of the original 14th-century Piscina. Perpendicular windows were added in the late 14th or early 15th century, one over the Chancel Arch and the other at the east end of the Clerestory on the South side. Patterned Tiles, of which some have been assembled by the present Chancel Curb, were laid down in the Chancel. A Corbel in the South Aisle with the Arms of Camoys (Lords of the Manor in the Reign of Henry V) may give a clue to the date of its Roof.
The present Tower and Tower-arch were built towards the end of the 14th century. The Tower is of 3 Stages with deeply projecting angle Buttresses. The Papal Indulgence of 1398 Granted to all who visited or gave Alms for the Conservation of Milton Church may have been connected with these additions.
The roof of the Nave was restored or rebuilt in 1592, the date being carved on the Easternmost Tie-beam over the Chancel-Arch. The Chancel Roof also appears to have been renewed in the 16th century. Parker dated it as late as the Reigns of Mary or Elizabeth I: it had short King-posts and Tie-beams resting on plain chamfered Corbels. There is no record of any work done to the Fabric during the 17th century and little for the 18th. The ‘inside of the church was much out of repair‘ in 1714, the ‘sentences‘ were worn out and the ‘Church defaced‘, and arrangements were made for repairs. The date 1735 carved on a Beam in the South Aisle probably indicates some repairs to the Roof executed at that date. The Rood Screen with turned Balusters dividing the Nave from the Chancel and the Box Pews, both of which are depicted in a pre-restoration print of the interior of the Church, were installed after the Reformation. At some date, in the 18th century the West Gallery, which is traditionally said to have been built out of the profits of a Whitsun Ale, was probably erected. It was presumably removed at the restoration.
By 1850 the Church was in need of drastic repair. It was restored at a cost of over £2,000 under the direction of Gilbert Scott. G Wyatt of Oxford was employed as Builder. The Roofs of Nave, Aisles, and Tower were newly boarded and in parts releaded; the Chancel Roof was entirely renewed and the East End of the Chancel rebuilt. The Church was underpinned all round and an open Gutter laid. The Rood Stairs, the Sedilia, Piscina, and Aumbry were opened up and the Piscina in the South Aisle was reconstructed. An Aperture was discovered in the North Wall of the Chancel, containing what is thought to have been an Acoustic Jar. The Church was repewed in Oak, and new Choir Stalls, copied from those in Dorchester Abbey, were made.
A number of changes have been introduced since the restoration. In 1860 the Dormer monument (see below) was moved from the south aisle and the vestry there was ‘taken down’ in order that the space made might be used for pews for the children of the parish school. Both monument and vestry were placed beneath the tower at the west end.
Substantial repairs were undertaken in 1926 at a cost of £600. The Roof was thoroughly restored and other repairs to the Fabric were effected. The Architect was H Bradfield of Great Milton. In 1927 the Rev A P Pott paid for the addition of a Vestry at the West end of the North Aisle. In 1933 Electric Light in accordance with the design of the Architect H. Grayson of Great Milton was installed. The church had previously been lit by oil and candles.
During 1955–6 repairs to the Stonework included a new Cross over the East Gable to replace the one provided in 1850 as a copy of the Medieval Cross, and also the repair of the external Stonework of some of the windows.
Some Wall paintings were discovered at the restoration of 1850, but were obliterated. Traces of one remain over the Doorway of the South Porch. A few small fragments of Medieval Glass have also survived in 3 of the Windows of the South Aisle, and in the East window of the North Aisle there are 2 Quatrefoil lights that are said to illustrate the Parable of Dives and Lazarus. Of modern painted glass that in the East window is by T Willement (inserted in 1850), that at the West end of the South Aisle by Castell, and in 1868 glass by O’Connor was inserted in the West window of the North Aisle to the memory of A M Ellis. In 1915 a Memorial Window to Margaret A Sawyer, designed by Heaton, Butler, & Bayne, was placed at the East end of this Aisle. Another to Charles Harris Rowles (d.1947) and his wife Bertha (d.1954) in the South Aisle was made by M Farrer Bell.
Of the Furnishings of the Medieval Church, the broken pieces of a Portable Altar of Purbeck Marble, found at the restoration of 1850, were incorporated in 1913 in the Altar Table placed in the Lady Chapel in the North Aisle; some 15th-century carved Bench ends, now in the Choir, were preserved at the same time. One has a representation of 2 cruets, chalice, and wafer. The Jacobean Pulpit was a Bequest to the Church made by Thomas Parsons (d.1640); before the restoration it stood in the angle of the North Arcade and the Chancel Arch. Another 17th-century addition was the Clock by Nicholas Harris, which was installed in the Tower in 1699. In 1860 an Organ was ingeniously disposed, part North and part South of the deep Respond of the South Arcade of the Nave; in 1875 a Reredos designed by Arthur Blomfield was erected; in 1889 a Brass Lectern was presented in Memory of Alexander and Elizabeth A Sheppard. Two Brass Standards with branching Candelabra, now on either side of the Altar, were acquired to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. In the next Century 6 Brass Sconces were placed in the Chancel to the memory of Emily Lovell (d.1918).
In 1940 Oak Rails designed by H S Rogers of Oxford replaced the Rails of Oak, Brass, and Iron which had in their turn replaced between 1862 and 1864 the Oak Rails designed by Gilbert Scott.
In 1958, owing to the initiative of the Vicar, the Rev E P Baker, the Royal Arms of Elizabeth II were hung over the North Door. Panels of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer were hung on either side of the East window to replace those removed in the last Quarter of the 19th century. The Ten Commandments were painted on the Spandrels of the Chancel Arch to replace those painted there in 1850, which were expunged in about 1932. All this work was done under the direction of E Clive Rouse and executed by Miss J T Lenton.
A Key-bugle and an Ophicleide, formerly played in the Church Choir, are preserved with some Constables’ Truncheons in the South Aisle. The Helm, Sword, and Orle of Sir Michael Dormer (d.1624), and 2 Pikes provided for the Village’s Home Guard in WW2 are under the Tower.
The earliest Monuments in the Church are the 2 Sepulchral Slabs with Floriated Crosses in relief dating from the 13th century. They were once in the Chancel but were removed at the restoration of 1850 to the North Aisle. Also in the North Aisle are 2 fragments of a Medieval Effigy which may derive from the Monument of Sir Richard de Louches (d. c. 1320–5) and his wife Elena Wace that was seen by Leland. The only Medieval Brasses in the Church are to the 4 children of Robert and Katherine Eggerley. Two of the 4 figures, 3 of the 4 Shields (the 4th has been recently lost), and the Inscription remain. The elaborate Tomb of Sir Michael Dormer was placed in 1618, during his lifetime, at the East End of the South Aisle, where traces of the Railing which fenced it off can still be seen. The Effigies of Sir Michael and Lady Dormer lie on an Alabaster Base and supported on a higher level between them lies that of Ambrose Dormer, Sir Michael’s father. At the East end of the Base an Alabaster Panel displays in relief a scene of Sir Michael Dormer engaged in the Spanish Wars. Inscriptions recording the lives of the 2 Dormers and Shields of many Quarterings also adorn the Base. The Monument has been attributed both to Gerard Christmas and to Epiphonius Evesham. It was restored, cleaned, and repainted in 1956 under the direction of E Clive Rouse.
There are Mural Tablets to Elizabeth Wilkinson (d.1654), wife of Henry Wilkinson, Principal of Magdalen Hall; Joan (d.1695), wife of Adolphus Meetkerke; John Smith (d. 1699); William Eldridge (d.1716); Richard Cornish (Vicar, d.1729); the Rev Francis Astry (d.1754); John Blackall, Gentleman (d.1755); Francis Jemmett, Esq (d.1784) and his wife Mary (d.1782) by John Osborne, Oxford; and Capt Lancelot Kerby Edwards (d. 1867). The 1st 2 Tablets mentioned were in the Chancel until 1875. Among the many inscriptions on the Floor of the Church the following may be mentioned; John Yong, Esq (d.1642/3); Mr Thomas Yong (bur.1692/3); Charles Hawkins (d.1691/2); Anna, wife of William Loe (d.1681); John Skynner (d.1729) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1769); William Loe (d.1754); John Reeve (d.1757); William Pease, Vicar (d.1781); William Skynner (d. 1794); Sir John Skynner, Chief Baron of the Exchequer (d.1805); Paul Wells (d.1805); Thomas Ellis, Vicar (d.1848). There is a Board giving details of Couling’s Charity and commemorating Charles Robey Couling (d.1911).
In 1552 the Commissioners recorded 4 Bells and a Sanctus Bell. In 1631 a ‘Stock’ Ring of 5 Bells was supplied by Ellis Knight. In 1679 the Churchwardens reported that the ‘Great Bell’ was broken. In 1684 the Bells were again ‘in good repair‘. Two were recast in 1673 by Ellis & Henry Knight and 3 were recast in 1771 by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester. The 1958 Ring of 8 are dated 1673 (2), 1771 (3), 1772, 1848, the 8th being an undated Bell of the 17th or 18th century. The Sanctus Bell is dated 1825.
The Church possesses some old Silver: a Silver Chalice, perhaps the one listed in the Inventory of 1552 with Paten cover (1568); a Silver Tankard Flagon and pair of Alms Plates (1764), given by Joan Smith, wife of Anthony Smith of Little Milton. There are also a Pewter Plate and Tankard with Marks of John Shorey (c.1714).
The Registers begin in 1550. There are Churchwardens’ Accounts from 1760.
The Church at Little Milton dedicated to St James was built in 1843–4 on land given by Walter Long, Lord of Great & Little Milton Manors. It is in the Decorated Style and comprises a Chancel, Nave, Vestry, Western Tower, and South Porch. It has a Barrel-shaped Wooden Roof. The Architect was John Hayward of Exeter and the Builder George Wyatt of Oxford. Unlike the design of many later Churches that were influenced by the Tractarian Movement, the Entrance to the Pulpit was directly from the Vestry and not from the Chancel. The Lord’s Prayer and the Commandments are inscribed on Stone on either side of the Altar. The cost of £1,500 was met by Private subscription and a Grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society.
In 1861 a Faculty was granted to add an Embattled Tower with 4 Spirelets and a Clock. The cost was met from a bequest of £1,200 for this purpose made by Mrs Catherine Grayson, Widow of Anthony Grayson, Principal of St Edmund Hall. The Architect was again John Hayward. In 1958 after one of the Spirelets had fallen down and the remaining ones were taken down by Simm & Co of Oxford, and the Parapet was repaired at a cost of £280.
In 1901 an Oak Reredos and Pulpit, executed by H Hems of Exeter, were given in Memory of Capt. E P Wardlaw (killed 1901); a Heating apparatus was installed in 1914; in 1947 the Bells were rehung and Electric Lighting was installed.
In 1854 Painted Glass was placed in the East window and in 2 windows in the Nave; one of the latter was in Memory of Catherine Grayson (d.1853). In 1869 a 3rd window was installed to Edith M Sawyer. The West Window is in Memory of Edward L Franklin of Ascot (d.1869). There are 2 Memorial Brasses to those who lost their lives in WW1 & WW2.
The Medieval Piscina, now in the Sanctuary, is the one found in ‘Chapel Heys‘, the site of the Medieval Chapel of St James that once served Little Milton.
The Church possesses an early Victorian Silver Chalice with Paten and an Alms-dish. There is a Ring of 6 Bells, all by Mears & Stainbank and dated 1867, and a Sanctus Bell of 1832.
The Registers date from 1844.
There were few adherents of the old faith in either of the Miltons. Only one Roman Catholic family was recorded in the early 17th century in Little Milton: Ralph Astry and his wife Anne were Presented for not receiving Communion in 1616; from 1625 to 1641 Anne Astry was listed as a Recusant, and in 1641 she paid the double Tax imposed on Recusants. In 1671 there were said to be no ‘Popish Recusants’. In the early 18th century, however, a member of a leading Roman Catholic Family, Francis Curson, lived in Great Milton until his father’s death in 1727. He also had ‘Papist’ Servants. The Simeons of Aston (Staffs) and Britwell Prior, another prominent Roman Catholic Family, who were Lords of the Manor of Chilworth and Coombe in the 17th century and later, were not Resident. In 1700 some local Inhabitants maintained that the Estate was secretly Held for the Dominicans.
The influence of the Dormer Family of Ascot, which had strong Puritan affinities, and of the Doyleys at Chislehampton, a neighbouring Parish, encouraged the growth of Protestant Dissent. Throughout the 17th century the Churchwardens Presented many people for failure to attend Church and for non-payment of Rates. It is not generally made clear whether the offenders were Papist or Protestant, but the presumption is that they were Protestant, except where there is evidence to the contrary as there is in the Case of the Astrys. Among those who appeared in the Peculiar Court were members of the Dormer Family. In 1619 Sir Michael Dormer was presented with 3 of his Servants for non-attendance and in 1677 and 1685 William Dormer and John Dormer were successively Presented for failing to pay Church Rates. Hearne’s view of John Dormer was that he was ‘a heathenish irreligious man‘. Earlier in the Century on leaving Oxford in 1637, John Owen, who later became a noted Independent Divine, stayed a short time at Ascot as Chaplain to Sir Robert Dormer, and may well have been active in the surrounding Villages. Delafield, the Vicar (1724–6, 1737–49) and Antiquary of Great Milton, reported a tradition that in the mid-17th century Quakers and Anabaptists and other ‘field conventiclers‘ held meetings under a large Elm Tree between the 2 Miltons.
A number of Offenders against Church Discipline were Presented by the Churchwardens later in the Century. In 1677 Paul Wildgoose of Little Milton, with 3 others, appeared in the Peculiar Court for not attending Church and in 1679 Wildgoose was again Presented. In 1677 3 people were Presented for not paying Church Rates. Richard Wiggin, one of them, was in trouble for the same reason in 1685, together with Thomas Anderson and Thomas Coles of Little Milton. In 1708 William Coles of Little Milton failed to pay the Easter offering and in 1714 15 people including 2 of the Wildgoose Family were presented for not paying Church Rates. In the same year John Brookes (a Servant) was indicted at Quarter Sessions for Nonconformity. The Presentments do not give the whole picture. It is known, for instance, that Maurice Griffith, the ejected Vicar of East Claydon (Bucks), was living ‘on his Temporal Estate at Milton‘ in 1665 and in 1673 he and his wife endowed a Charity at Little Milton (see below), but he appears to have left the Parish by the time of his death at Culham in 1676. The original returns for the Compton Census listed 5 Dissenters.
As the Miltons were a Peculiar the Visitation returns of the 18th century provide no information about the Nonconformity which is likely to have continued there, but by the early 19th century there is evidence of its existence. In 1808 a Minister was reported to have come from Thame to make Converts, and in the same year a house in Little Milton was Registered for Protestant Worship, perhaps the house where in 1810 a Baptist Minister occasionally Preached. In 1811 another house in Little Milton was Registered and in 1814 a few Parishioners were attending a ‘Salvationist’ Preacher there after the Church Service. In 1811 a house in Great Milton had also been Registered.
Later in the century Methodism flourished in both the Miltons. In 1831 the 1st Chapel was built in Little Milton. One of the leading Methodists was Thomas Perkins, a Little Milton Grocer from London, and the Chapel Trustees included another Grocer and a Labourer of Little Milton, 2 Great Milton Farmers, and Tradesmen and Labourers from other Parishes, including Drayton, Chalgrove, and Watlington. The Chapel had a Congregation of about 30 that was Taught by a Shoemaker and a visiting Preacher. In 1842 the present Chapel was built in Great Milton. According to the Census of 1851 each Chapel had a Congregation of about 40 in the afternoon and 50 in the evening, but there is some doubt about the accuracy of these figures. In 1854 the incumbents reported that there were 20 professed Wesleyans in Little Milton and the same number in Great Milton. They alleged that since many attended services at both Chapels, they had been counted twice in the Census; also many who were not Dissenters occasionally attended the Meeting-house in the evening, and on the day of the Census special pains had been taken that there should be a full attendance. There continued to be a fair number of Methodists in both places, and in 1890 the present Chapel was built in Little Milton on a new site, and the old Chapel was sold. Both Great & Little Milton Chapels still had Trustees (largely Tradesmen) from several nearby Parishes, but the leading local Methodist was probably Charles Surman, a Great Milton Farmer. Both Chapels are on the Thame and Watlington circuit.