Newington’s Economy has long been Agricultural, with Crafts & Retail employing only a small percentage of the population. Shops & Businesses were mostly focused on the Turnpike Road in Brookhampton & Holcombe, although a Grocers Shop in Berrick Prior was run from the Chequers Pub for nearly 2 centuries. Sheep-&-Corn Husbandry predominated, and until the early 19thC much of the Farmland was worked in Open-fields; exceptions were Newington & Holcombe Townships, where some Arable was converted to Inclosed Pasture relatively early. Dairying was concentrated in Holcombe & Brookhampton, whose Riverside Meadows provided Hay. Extensive Chiltern Woods belonged to Newington Manor in the Middle Ages, while the Thame supported Fish Weirs & a Watermill.
The Agricultural Landscape
Except for Britwell Prior (which shared its Fields with Britwell Salome), each Township had its own Open-fields probably by the late 11thC. Berrick Prior had 3-Fields in 1288, & 4 (of varying quality) in the 18thC, called Marsh, Middle, Down, & West. The last was shared with Newington until c.1595, when the Newington part was Inclosed with Newington’s Hill, Middle, & Breach fields, almost certainly by the Lord of Newington Owen Oglethorpe, who converted large areas to Pasture. Berrick’s Fields remained otherwise un-inclosed until 1815. Holcombe’s Fields were mentioned in 1270, and were worked on a 3-course rotation in 1647 when they included a ‘Bean Field’. All were fully Inclosed by 1795, presumably by one of Holcombe’s Lords. No details of Brookhampton’s Medieval Fields are known, although Furlongs were described in 1490, and an Open-field survived there in 1795. Some 63% of the Parish’s Arable was then still Farmed in Common, comprising 100a at Brookhampton, 573a at Berrick Prior, & 381a at Britwell Prior. The Britwell Fields were Inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1842–5, and whilst Brookhampton saw no formal Inclosure the process there was complete by 1839.
Common Meadows lay chiefly along the River Thame & Chalgrove Brook in the West & North, with smaller pieces bordering streams and springs elsewhere. The largest included Haywards Mead at Brookhampton (called ‘Heyweremede‘ in 1384), which John Oglethorpe tried to Inclose in the 1560s; it remained common in 1795 when it covered 30 acres. Additional Strips (some of them mentioned c.1275) lay detached in Woodford Mead in Drayton St Leonard. Several Meadows were Lot Meadow, their Strips re-allocated annually, and were regulated through Newington’s Manor Court.
Common grazing was allowed in the Common Meadows from Lammas (1 August), and in the Open-fields after harvest. In 1490 Brookhampton’s Tenants had additional grazing in ‘Cowlese‘ (A Riverside Pasture by Chiselhampton Bridge), and those of Newington, Berrick Prior, & Brookhampton in ‘Hylwork‘ or ‘Hellewerk‘, a detached Chiltern Wood evidently near Bix. In the late 16thC Holcombe & Newington Tenants shared a further Common Pasture (called the Coombe) by Holcombe Brook, while Newington had a Village Green. By 1795 neither Newington nor Holcombe had any remaining Commons, though a total of 92a survived at Brookhampton (57a), Berrick Prior (29a), & Britwell Prior (6a). Berrick Prior’s Village Green (c.10a) was Inclosed in 1815 with a 16a furze ground at Hollandtide Bottom, while Brookhampton’s Commons were Inclosed by 1839. Britwell Prior’s small Common Meadow was Inclosed in 1845.
Little Inclosed Land is recorded before 1500, although 3 Newington Tenants held Crofts c.1200, and a few small Closes were mentioned in 1489–90. Osney Abbey’s Holcombe Estate comprised a single large Close called Newbury by the 1530s, which after the Dissolution was split into a 100a Pasture (Newbury Hill) and 20a Meadow (Newbury Mead). Other Meadow & Pasture Closes in Holcombe & Brookhampton were mentioned in the late 16thC, together with a group of old Inclosures in Newington (called the Lydes) beside Holcombe Brook. By 1795 old Inclosures comprised 43% of Titheable land in Brookhampton, 11% in Berrick Prior (mainly Orchards adjoining dwellings), and just 2% in Britwell Prior, while Newington & Holcombe were wholly Inclosed. Newington Manor House had an attached 30a known as the Park in the mid 17thC, and in the 1720s Sir Edward Simeon Inclosed 59a for Parkland around Britwell House.
Woods & Woodland Management
Much of the Woodland attached to Newington Manor in 1086 (described as one league square) lay on the Chilterns, in an area called Minigrove (or Maidensgrove) in Bix, Pishill, & Watlington. Around 1200 the Prior leased some of those Woods to Peter of Bix reserving Timber & Firewood, and in the 13thC, most of the Manors Villeins were required to Cart wood from Bix, for which they were allowed Firewood & Timber for repairs from a wood called ‘Biggefrit‘. Illicit Felling & Pasturing in Minigrove was regularly reported, much of it by the Abbot of Dorchester, who owned land in Pishill. In 1436 there was confusion as to whether certain Watlington Tenants were entitled to Firewood & Pasture there, and in 1520/1 Wood sales from Minigrove raised £2-2s-6d. After the Dissolution, some of the Woods may have been Sold, and the remainder (338a in the 18thC) were separated from Newington Manor in 1600. Thereafter they formed the greater part of the so-called Minigrove Manor, which descended with Britwell Prior until 1830.
Early OS Map of Oxfordshire
Most other Medieval Woodland lay in the detached part of Britwell Prior called Shambridge, which was presumably where William of Shambridge held ½-hide from the Prior c.1200 by the Service of sawing wood. Possibly he was a predecessor of the Shambridge Forester recorded in 1270. Fifty trees from there were sold for 35s in 1371/2, and the Shambridge Woodward received 30s in 1449–50. Purchasers included Merton College, Oxford, which bought Firewood & Plough-timber for Cuxham Manor in the early 14thC, while occasional Trespassers included Watlington men who broke in & Pastured cattle there in 1517. After 1600 Shambridge Wood (then 85a) was attached to Minigrove Manor, and whilst the greatest profits in 1772/3 came from Beech Poles & Faggots, smaller sums were raised from Ash, Oak (including bark), & Elm. A Woodman to manage their Britwell Prior and Watlington Woods was employed by the Welds in the early 19thC.
Woods elsewhere in the Parish were scarce, although a Beech Wood high on Britwell Hill (10a in 1843) may have survived from the Prior of Canterbury’s Medieval Demesne Wood in Britwell. Part of Berrick Prior’s West field, known as the Grove, was presumably also once Wooded. A few Elms and other Timber trees grew on Glebe Land in 1795, when Holcombe had 4a of Coppice & Newington 2a, and by 1826 Holcombe had a further 17a of Coverts. By 1911 the Coverts covered 26a and Timber on Holcombe Manor (principally Elms) was worth £1, 255.
Medieval Tenant & Demesne Farming
In 1086 Newington Manor had 19 Plough-teams on land sufficient for 18, implying pressure on resources. Six Demesne Plough-teams were worked by 5 Servi, whilst 22 Villeins & 10 Bordars shared the remaining 13. The Manors annual value was £15 compared with £11 in 1066, and besides its Woodland it had 15a of Meadow and 2 Furlongs of Pasture, worth 35s a year when stocked. Holcombe was presumably separately accounted for as part of Benson. By 1200 Newington Manor was managed for Canterbury Cathedral Priory by 2 Reeves chosen from leading Tenants, of whom one acted for Britwell Prior. Each received a 4s stipend, with 1a of wheat & pasture for his Draught animals alongside the Lord’s. Both presented annual accounts to the Priory and reported to a Bailiff, who was shared with the Priory’s Buckinghamshire Manors. A visiting Monk-warden (custos maneriorum) from Canterbury collected Manorial Profits at Newington twice a year, and from the 1330s regularly met the Warden of Canterbury College, Oxford, to arrange supplies of food & money for the College. In 1394/5 the College received £3 from the Manor.
During the Interdict of 1207–13 Newington Manor was confiscated by the Crown and plundered for profit: almost all the Demesne Livestock & Grain Stores were Sold, and the Manors value in 1212–13 was a meagre £4 6s 8d. A swift recovery followed its return to Canterbury Cathedral, and by 1286/7 gross income (including Rents & Court profits) totalled £57, leaving £21 after expenses. The proceeds came partly from Demesne Farming, which until c.1370 drew on heavy Tenant Labour Services and on Hired Farm Servants or famuli, including (in the 1360s) 4 Ploughmen, a Carter, a Shepherd, and a Swineherd. The Demesne was apparently confined to Newington & Britwell Prior Townships, the Newington part in 1279 comprising 200a of Arable and 2a of Meadow, with Pasture for 12 Oxen & 6 Cows. The Britwell part contained 100a of Arable, 3a of Pasture, and 10a of Woods, supplemented by 2-Yardlands given by a certain Sybil.
Little is known about early Cereal Cultivation on the Demesne, although 40a were sown with Oats in 1211. Crop accounts for 1365-66 show that 49a yielded 61 Quarters of Spring Barley, 76 a. produced 48 Quarters of Peas, and 3a grew 4 Quarters of Oats, while Crop sales raised £9, principally from Barley, followed by Wheat & Oats. Livestock in 1287 totalled 160 sheep, c.30 cattle (including a Bull), 29 Pigs (including a Boar), and 11 Horses (including a Cart horse), together with a few Poultry. Sheep numbers increased to 250 at Newington and 300 at Britwell by c.1322 and in 1367-68 some 136 fleeces were sold for £3. Four years later 91 fleeces were Sold & sheepskins raised 2s-6d, additional income coming from Hay (£2) and leases of Demesne Pasture (12s-9d).
Tenant Farming was smaller-scale but similarly mixed, with an emphasis on sheep, corn, & pigs. Most 13thC Villeins held a Yardland (perhaps 24a) for cash rents of 4–5s, Hearth-penny (due on 1st August), and Heavy Labour Services including ploughing, harrowing, sowing, hoeing, reaping, haymaking, carting, & shepherding. Other Services included repairs to the Lord’s Buildings, Mill, & Fish Weir, Carriage of Timber & Firewood from his Chiltern Woods, & Carting of Grain to Market within Oxfordshire. Several Villeins undertook extra Ploughing in return for Commons in the Demesne Pasture (a Service known as ‘Gerserthe‘), and some received hay, sheaves, or sheep for Boon Works, for which the Lord generally provided Food & Drink. Cottars owed similar but lighter Services, and some paid part of their Rent in hens or capons.
Newington’s Open Fields were administered by the late 13thC through a set of Autumn By-laws, enforced in the Manor Court by a Group of elected Wardens. Offences were punishable by a Fine, usually 2d–12d. The 1st By-law restricted Gleaning to those unable to Reap and set the rate of pay for Reapers at a penny a day plus food. Others prohibited payment in Sheaves in the Field, Carting by night, & Trampling crops. Grazing by Sheep was allowed after Harvest, but only after grazing by Plough Beasts, & Pigs were to be supervised by the Common Swineherds, one for each Township. Fines for excessive or improper grazing were regularly imposed. Inter-Commoning existed between Newington & Warborough and between Britwell Prior & Watlington, while the Bishop of Lincoln had specified Meadow Rights in Haywards Mead.
The Black Death led to Vacant Holdings on Newington Manor, and in 1359 6½-Yardlands in Britwell Prior (previously held by 6 Tenants) were Leased to one person until takers could be found. Britwell Rents remained low, with further engrossment of Holdings, so that in 1489 one Customary Tenant there held 9-Yardlands (219a). Shortage of Tenants elsewhere on the Manor was less acute, although the number of Customary Holdings roughly halved, and the average Peasant Farmed 2-Yardlands instead of one. Rents stabilised in the 15thC at 10s per Yardland in Newington & Brookhampton and 9s in Berrick Prior, significantly more than the 4 to 7s charged in Britwell Prior, while Labour Services were routinely commuted to Cash payments. Entry Fines were significantly lower than those demanded before 1349.
Probably in response the Priory withdrew from Direct Management c.1370, Leasing the Manor to one or more Farmers who replaced the Reeves. Their annual accounts survive intermittently from 1417, showing that they paid £26-£27 Rent and regularly spent significant sums on repairs to both Tenant & Demesne Buildings. A Lease of 1487 was issued jointly to 3 Farmers resident in Newington, Britwell Prior, & Shirburn, for 15 years at £27-6s-8d Rent. The Prior provided them with money to Stock the Demesne (£7-15s for Newington and £3-12s for Britwell Prior), on condition that they returned those sums at the end of their term. In 1490 the Newington & Britwell Farmers held 296a & 123a respectively.
Medieval Agriculture in Holcombe is less well recorded. In contrast with Newington Manor (but in Common with others nearby), most Holcombe Tenants in 1279 were Freeholders or Cottars owing cash Rents only. The single Villein held ½-Yardland, owing Ploughing-service on Holcombe’s ½-Hide (c.60a) Demesne. One Free Tenancy, comprising a hide, was probably the later Skirmots Farm, named after its 15thC Owners; in 1484 it was Let for 13 years at £2-13s-4d Rent, its Outbuildings including a stable, sheephouse, garner, & barn. Holcombe Field-names attest the cultivation of Flax, Rye, & Peas, and an area known later as the Warren was presumably a Rabbit Farm. Osney Abbey’s Newbury Grange was sown c.1280 with seed-corn from Watlington, and c.1503 was let to a Holcombe Farmer for 21-yrs at £3 a year.
Farms & Farming 1500–1800
In the early 16thC, Newington Manor was still leased to local Farmers, who after John King’s death in 1505 were principally Members of the Hall Family. Leases of c.1516 & 1533 (for 25 & 40 years respectively) were at the lower Rent of £10, apparently because the Priory had resumed control of Tenant Holdings leaving the Farmers with only the Demesne. An Oxford Wax Chandler was appointed Beadle in 1512, and in 1519/20 collected £27 Rents for the Prior: £10 from Berrick Prior, £6 from Newington, £6 from Brookhampton, and £5 from Britwell Prior & Minigrove. Total Manorial Income was £33-9s-7d clear in 1535.
Under new Lords (the Oglethorpe’s) the value rose to £38 a year by 1579, although the Manor was reduced in 1600 by the loss of its Britwell Prior & Minigrove properties. Thereafter little is known about its Tenant Farms, although several were Copyholds Let for 3 lives. The more prosperous Tenants included members of the Freeman, King, & Wise Families at Berrick Prior, and the Andersons of Brookhampton, of whom Thomas (d. c.1729) took the Copyhold Brookhampton Farm (then called Taylors) in 1692. His son Thomas (d.1741), who also Farmed in Stadhampton, left goods worth the exceptional sum of £1,020, including £815 in Crops & Livestock. In Newington, James Leaver (d. c.1722) held Ewe Farm, which by 1731 had passed to Elizabeth Tripp at £164 a year. In 1795 the Estates Principal Farms were Ewe (226 a, Let to John Tripp), Lane End (100a, also John Tripp), & Brookhampton (101a, Thomas Anderson), along with 3 Farms in Berrick Prior held by Jesse Leaver (106a), John Lee (104a) & Thomas Coles (64a).
Farming in Britwell Prior was dominated initially by the Crook Family as Tenants under Newington Manor, with sheep, barley, & wheat featuring prominently in the Wills of Richard (d. c.1569) and his son Richard (d.1580). From 1600 the Family held under Britwell Prior Manor, John Crook (d.1619) leaving goods worth £288, of which £133 was in grain & £75 in livestock (including 100 sheep). The Crooks’ Priory (or Upper) Farm was leased later to the Rolles & Blackall Families, and in 1717 was held by Thomas King for £100 a year; a 2nd farm (Lower or Coopers) was then Let to Thomas Hutchins at £60. From 1738 both Farms (352a in 1795) were worked together by the Stopes Family, which bought the Freehold in 1797. The 70a Shambridge Farm, so called by 1717, was apparently sold to its Tenant Edward Goodchild in 1797, as part of Lower Greenfield Farm in Watlington.
Holcombe’s principal 16thC Farmers were members of the Bisley Family, of whom John held Leases of both the Newbury & Skirmots Farms in the 1530s. Later Holcombe Tenants included Thomas King (d.1731) and probably Edmund Spyer (d.1649), whose goods at his death (worth £449) included £285 in crops & £92 in livestock. By the 1780s Holcombe had 4 Farms, including 3 on the Manor Estate: Great Holcombe Farm (169a, let to Thomas Smith), Little Holcombe (228a, John Blewett), and Hill Farm (105a, Richard Swell). Warren Hill Farm (76 a.), held by Richard Butler, belonged to Great Milton’s Ascott Manor Estate.
Farming remained mixed with an Arable bias. In 1795, ¾ of Titheable Land in the Parish was under Crop, and all but one Farm had more Arable than Grass. The main Crops were barley, wheat & pulses, with some oats & rye; fodder crops were regularly grown on the Fallow, and apples & bees were mentioned occasionally, while those with malting & brewing equipment included the Berrick Prior Victualler John Weller (d.1792). Livestock included pigs & cows, with Cheese-making particularly prevalent in Holcombe & Brookhampton, although sheep remained most numerous, with flocks of 100 or more recorded frequently. In 1647, when both sheep & cattle were admitted to Holcombe’s Fields after harvest, Tenants could graze 20 sheep for every Yardland held, and 4 people had between 2 & 14 Cow Commons.
Newington Parish Tithe Map 1840
Inclosure increasingly threatened such Common Rights. In 1568 3 Brookhampton Copyholders accused John Oglethorpe of trying to Inclose Haywards Mead, where up to 200 sheep & 21 cattle could be pastured between Lammas & Mid-Lent Sunday along with Plough Beasts. His attempt failed, but Oglethorpe’s son Owen Inclosed Newington’s Fields c.1595 & Holcombe was Inclosed by 1795, leaving only Brookhampton, Berrick Prior, & Britwell Prior pursuing Open-field Farming.
Farms & Farming Since 1800
Berrick Prior was Inclosed in 1815 under a Private Act of 1810, promoted probably by Sir Cecil Bisshopp as Lord of Newington. The same Inclosure extinguished Tithes in Berrick Prior & Newington, affecting c.1,100a (including old Inclosures) in the 2 Townships. Bisshopp received 806a, the Rector 204a, & 5 Landholders a total of 97a, while 2 a. were allotted for Berrick Prior’s poor in compensation for Furze-cutting Rights. The Rector’s Allotment included a ring-fenced Glebe Farm of 182a in lieu of Tithes (Lane End, formerly Bisshopp’s) which he farmed directly, stock at his death in 1830 including 207 sheep, 13 dairy cows, and quantities of wheat, oats, barley, & beans. Bisshopp organised nearly all his Land in just 2 Farms, Ewe (467a) & Berrick (335a), which in 1832 were Tenanted Together. Around 1840 each gained a secondary ‘Field Homestead’ and in 1856 the 2 Farms were let to different Tenants for £371 & £340 a year.
Farms in Holcombe, Brookhampton & Britwell Prior were described in 1839 & 1843. At Holcombe only 39% of Farmland was Arable, compared with 63% in Brookhampton and 76% in Britwell Prior. The 100-a Warren Hill Farm was still held of Ascott Manor, but otherwise, all the Townships Farmland belonged to Holcombe Manor and was let as 3 Farms: Great Holcombe (205a, run by Edward Shrubb), Little Holcombe (231a, William Gardner) & Hill (116a, Henry Hamp). Brookhampton Farm (183a) was held of Newington Manor by Thomas Smith, while Britwell Priors Priory & Coopers Farms included land in Britwell Salome, bringing their areas to c.480a & 280a respectively. The former had been owned and occupied since 1824 by Richard Newton, while the latter (recently bought by James Campion) was let to John Stopes. At the Britwells’ Inclosure in 1842-45 Campion (200a) & Newton (188a) were the principal recipients, whilst James Weld received 85a at Shambridge Woods, Edmund Painter 73a for part of Lower Greenfield farm, & W F Lowndes Stone 70 a. for Britwell Prior Manor. The Rector was allotted 15a for Glebe & 12 others shared a total of 58 acres.
In 1856 Newington Manor was broken up. Ewe & Berrick Farms (862a) were bought by John Deane (d.1886), who ran both from Ewe Farm until the early 1880s; thereafter Berrick Farm passed to the Franklin Family, which retained it in 1999. By 1861 Deane employed 50 men & boys, the Parish’s 7 remaining Farmers employing 68 labourers between them. Farming in Britwell Prior was dominated from 1870 by James Prowse Franklin, a Ewelme man who leased the 480-a Priory Farm from the Paine Family. Franklin continued there until his death in 1908, to be succeeded by H W Stride (d. 1919). Cooper’s, Great Holcombe, Ewe, & Berrick Farms were then generally managed by Bailiffs.
Most 19thC Farmers still practiced Arable-based Sheep-Corn Husbandry, and several employed Shepherds, while in 1861 John Turrill of Brookhampton Farm was a Butcher raising beef cattle. As elsewhere, agricultural depression from the 1870s saw Arable increasingly converted to grass, with 800a under Permanent Pasture by 1900 and a further 323a sown with clover or sanfoin. Even Pastoral Farming was insecure, the Tenant of Holcombe’s Hill Farm (a Dairy operation employing 2 Farmhands) going Bankrupt in 1880, while numbers of milch cows (excluding Britwell Prior) dropped from 106 in 1870 to 28 in 1890, recovering to 73 by 1900. Numbers of other cattle held firm at 162–70, and pig numbers increased from 37 to 96, but sheep numbers halved from 1,791 to 890, perhaps in part reflecting the decline in Arable from 47% of agricultural land to only 37%. Barley, wheat, and oats remained the principal crops, with 60a of Flax reported in Berrick Prior in 1870. Small-scale Watercress production was recorded in Berrick Prior & Britwell Prior c.1877–92, exploiting natural Springs.
The earlier 20thC saw most of the Parish’s Farms change Ownership. Holcombe Manor was broken up in 1911, and its 3 Farms bought soon after by the Families which ran them in 2014. The Deanes sold Ewe Farm by 1939, and in 1941 2 Smallholdings at Warren Hill were Leased from the County Council, which had established them in the 1920s. Fairview Farm (50a, mainly pigs) was a sub-holding of Great Holcombe, and Alan Franklin of Berrick Farm let most of his 330a to a Farmer from Rokemarsh in Benson. Newell’s Farm at Brookhampton was established in the 1950s, and in 1960 the Parish’s 11 Farms (6 of them over 100a) employed 19 people between them. A 3rd of Farmland was still Arable, producing mostly wheat, barley & oats, while livestock comprised 467 cattle (136 in milk), 105 pigs, & 50 sheep. Poultry numbered over 2,000, some of them kept on a Holding run from a Cottage between Holcombe & Brookhampton.
The Parish’s largest enterprise was Priory Farm in Britwell Prior, bought by Sidney Roadnight in 1920 and worked by his nephew Richard for over 40-yrs from 1936. In 1941 it comprised 900a. including Coopers Farm and employed 16 people, and by the 1950s covered 2,300 a. in several Parishes, employing 28 men & 2 boys and using 15 Tractors. Almost 2/3rds of the Farm was Arable, producing mostly barley & wheat which was stored & dried in a large Brick Granary near the Farmhouse. The remaining 3rd supported 350 cattle, 1,360 sheep & 500 poultry, while 1,200 pigs were reared outdoors using pioneering methods. By the mid-1980s some 4,600 tons of Grain were produced annually, and there were 550 breeding sows, although the workforce had shrunk to 18. The Farm was broken up and sold in 1992, and thereafter much of the land was farmed from Brightwell Baldwin.
During the later 20thC Arable across the Parish was expanded, accounting for almost ¾ of Farmland by 1988. New crops such as oil-seed rape & maize underlay some of the expansion, although wheat, barley, & oats still predominated. Hill Farm specialised in Dairy production, converting later to mixed farming with a beef herd. Sheep were reared on Berrick farm in 1999, and from 2006 a Restaurant & Hotel business in Brookhampton bred Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs on Newell’s Farm (80a), which by 2014 supported various rare breeds and a Farm Shop. Ewe & Lane End Farms were then mainly Arable, and Great Holcombe Farm had 450 Pedigree Aberdeen Angus beef cattle.
Trades, Crafts & Retailing
Medieval occupational surnames included Butcher, Carpenter, Chapman, Miller, Tailor, Chandler, Coopator (roofer), Sutor (cobbler), & Webbe (weaver). Andrew de Furno (‘of the oven or furnace’), recorded at Britwell Prior in 1279, was perhaps a Baker or Blacksmith, and in 1326 Henry the Baker of Newington was fined for obtaining corn sheaves in breach of the autumn by-laws. Several other Tenants of Newington Manor (often women) paid Brewing fines known as ‘Tolcester‘, charged at 1½d. for every 1½ gallons of Ale brewed or sold. Around 20 people regularly paid 4 to 6d each in the 1280s and in 1320 a Britwell Prior woman was described as a Taverner. Inhabitants surnamed Smith were recorded in four of the 5 Townships in the 13thC, and a Blacksmith paying 18d Rent continued in Newington in 1366, when a reeve allowed him iron & steel for Plough repairs. Excavation South of Newington House revealed a 12thC Smithy replaced with a new Forge in the 13thC but decommissioned in the 14thC. Thereafter no further record of Smithing has been found until the 19thC. Gravel has been dug from pits in Berrick Prior & Holcombe since the Middle Ages.
Holcombe inhabitants (as Tenants of Ancient Demesne) had their ancient freedoms from Tolls and other Dues throughout England reconfirmed in 1588. Trades there in the 16th-18thCs included those of butcher, joiner, cordwainer, shoemaker, tailor, thatcher & wheelwright, while a Britwell Prior clothworker in 1644 had a well-equipped workshop containing 3 pairs of Fulling Shears, and a Newington man in 1630 left Looms worth £2. Pubs in Berrick Prior & Brookhampton (known by 1822 as the Chequers and the Bear & Ragged Staff) were licensed by 1754. John Weller, the former’s Publican from 1763, worked also as a Thatcher, and by the 1790s ran a Grocer’s Shop from the Premises. In 1773 he purchased the Pub’s Freehold, and 10-yrs later added a Granary which he left to his son, a Dealer Trading in Berrick Prior & Roke. Aylmor Stopes of Britwell Prior and London was a mid-18thC Clockmaker.
In 1831 only 23 people from 7 families (18% of those in work) were Employed in Retail & Crafts, with most businesses concentrated in Brookhampton or Holcombe, where there was passing Trade from the Turnpike Road. Brookhampton, in particular, saw the greatest amount of Commercial Activity during the 19th & 20thC, the Bear & Ragged Staff Pub remaining open in 2014 following its relaunch as a Hotel & Restaurant in 1993. A 2nd Pub or Beer Shop called the Wheatsheaf opened there before 1838 when Brookhampton had a Bakery, a Corn Merchant’s Granary & a Butcher’s Slaughter House and by the 1850s there was a Grocer’s & Wheelwright’s. The Wheatsheaf was apparently demolished c.1860, but later 19thC Tradesmen included 2 Bakers, 2 Grocers, and a Butcher, and c.1880 a Cottage-based Clothing Factory run by a Tailor employed a few local women as Machinists & Pressers, closing by 1901. A Grocer’s Shop (H E Upstone’s) and a Bakery continued into the 20thC, the Shop accommodating a Post Office by 1881. It was rebuilt following a Fire in 1960, and in 2014 was a Post Office, General Store, & Petrol Station.
Holcombe had a Beer Shop by 1838 and in 1841 a Tailor & Shoemaker each employed Apprentices. A grocer’s shop on the Turnpike Road traded from the mid-19thC to the early 1940s, when it passed to a local Builder who erected several houses in the parish, while a Pub opposite (called the Stag) Traded from the 1850s until 1967. Members of the Ring Family were carpenters in the late 19thC, and a joiner was resident in 1999. A Horticultural Nursery between Holcombe & Brookhampton opened in the 1990s. At Berrick Prior the Chequers continued as a Pub & Grocer’s Shop into the 20thC, gaining a ‘Refreshment Room‘ in the 1920s and a Post Office by the 1960s. The Shop & Post Office closed in the 1980s, but the Pub continued in 2014. A Smithy on the Berrick–Newington Poad, established by 1871, continued as a Carpenter’s & Wheelwright’s Shop until the early 20thC.
A small Brick & Tile works established by the Farmer John Deane employed one man in 1861, but apparently closed soon afterwards. A longer-lasting Enterprise was started by the Franklins at Lonesome Farm in 1927, employing 3–5 men in the 1930s when it produced 30,000–74,000 Bricks a year, sold to Builders in Wallingford, Henley & Benson. In 1947 (following temporary Wartime closure) it was revived as the Chalgrove Brick Co and at its height in 1949 Employed 12 men & Sold 349,000 Bricks, including some to a London Building Firm. Thereafter production fell sharply, and the works closed in 1954. The Kiln and some other infrastructure survived in 1980.
Milling & Fishing
Newington Manor’s Watermill, recorded from c.1200, stood in Haywards Mead at Brookhampton, and in 1384 figured in a dispute between Canterbury Cathedral Priory and the Bishop of Lincoln. In 1211 it yielded 16 loads of maslin in rent or multure and was called ‘Heywere‘ by 1270, when Robert the Millward was fined for grinding his corn outside the Manor. The Manor’s Tenants were obliged to maintain both Mill & Millpond, and paid a farthing towards the cost of carrying each new Millstone. A Sluice-gate was renewed in 1284-85, and repairs in 1371-72 cost almost £10; The Mill may, however, have become dilapidated, since in 1452 the Prior let the Millstream & Weir to a Bix man for 99-yrs on condition that he rebuild it with a dwelling above. A Mill still existed in 1590 and possibly 1618, but no further reference has been found. In Berrick Prior, a Windmill was perhaps recalled in the Furlong name Windmill Hill, recorded in 1731.
Two Fish Weirs in the River Thame belonged to Newington & Benson Manors, their locations betrayed by 2 small Islands or Eyots in the River Channel near the Parish Church. Newington’s Weir, the Southernmost of the 2, existed by c.1200, when Canterbury Cathedral’s Prior reserved Timber from Woods in Bix for its repair. Walter Fisher (Piscator), the Newington Tithingman in 1289, may have been its Keeper. In the late 14thC it produced 15s.–20s. a year, and in 1490 both Weir & Eyot formed part of the Newington Demesne Leased to John King. Benson’s Weir, in the South-West corner of Holcombe Tithing, was held by the Prior of Canterbury Cathedral for 12d Quitrent by 1279, and in the 1530s belonged to John Cottesmore for the same payment. Both Weirs subsequently disappeared, but Newington & Holcombe Manors each retained Fisheries in the Thame, and Parishioners continued to Fish there. A Holcombe Fisherman died c.1616, and in 1859 a Berrick Prior man paid £2-10s. a year for Fishing Rights at Holcombe.