Rycote Manors

In 1086 the Norman Tenant-in-chief Hugh de Bolbec held 4-Hides at Rycote along with numerous Estates elsewhere.  In the 12thC the Manor passed to Walchelin Visdelou, whose successor Humphrey Visdelou held it until c.1176; thereafter the Crown retained it until c.1190 when Prince John Granted it to Hugh de Malaunay with Chalgrove.  By the later 13thC the Manor was generally known as Great (or Magna) Rycote, distinguishing it from the smaller Rycote Parva (Little Rycote).  In 1200 Hugh sold the Estate as a Knight’s Fee to Fulk of Rycote, probably Matilda Visdelou’s husband.  He died before 1212 when Alexander son of Richard (probably Fulk’s brother) held Rycote from the Honour of Wallingford.  Their successor Fulk (II) of Rycote was mentioned in the 1220s and died by 1236, to be followed during the mid 13thC by Fulk (III), probably his son.  Sir Fulk (IV) served as Sheriff of Oxfordshire & Berkshire from 1262 to 1264, and lived until the mid-1280s; his successor, Sir Fulk (V), died in 1302, leaving as heir his 7-year old son Fulk (VI).  Born in 1295, that Fulk was the last of the Family to bear the traditional Christian name, and reached his Majority in 1317.  On his death in 1361 he was succeeded by his son John of Rycote, still living in 1391.

John’s successor was probably Nicholas of Rycote, who outlived his daughter & heir Joan and made a Lifetime Grant of the Manor to his son-in-law Nicholas Englefield (d.1415).  Before 1428 the Englefields‘ daughter Sibyl married Richard Quatremain of North Weston, who acquired extensive Family Estates through the deaths of his Elder Brothers and served as Sheriff & MP for Oxfordshire.  Until his death in 1477 he held Rycote by Right of his wife, and on Sibyl’s death in 1483 the Manor passed to her kinsman Richard Fowler (d.1502).  Like his predecessors, Fowler lived at Rycote, where he was succeeded by his son Richard.

According to Leland, the younger Richard Fowler sold Reversion of the Manor to Sir John Heron (d.1522), Treasurer of the Royal Chamber.  Heron’s son & successor Giles married a daughter of Thomas More, and in 1539 sold Rycote to the prominent Royal Servant & Administrator Sir John Williams (d.1559), Master of the King’s Jewels. The Purchase was confirmed in 1540 by a special clause in Heron’s subsequent Act of Attainder.  Williams was created Baron Williams of Thame in 1554 & died in 1559, leaving as co-heirs 2 daughters by his 1st marriage. Rycote was apportioned to the younger daughter Margery (d.1599), wife of the Courtier & Diplomat Henry Norris (d.1601), who was created Baron Norris of Rycote in 1572.  Henrys heir was his grandson Francis, created Viscount Thame & Earl of Berkshire in 1621.  Following a Scandal he committed Suicide at Rycote the following year and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, Baroness Norris.  She married Edward Wray, Groom of the Bedchamber to James I, and left a daughter, Bridget (d.1657), who married (as her 2nd husband) Montague Bertie (d.1666), 2nd Earl of Lindsey.  Their son James (Lord Norris by Right of his mother) was created Earl of Abingdon in 1682 and died in 1699, leaving his Title & Estates to his son Montague (d.1743). Thereafter Rycote Descended with the Earldom until the early 20thC, passing to Montagues nephew Willoughby Bertie (d.1760) and through the direct male line to Willoughby (d.1799), Montague (d.1854), Montague (d.1884), and Montague (d.1928), the 7th Earl.  In 1911 the Earl sold Rycote to Alfred St George Hamersley (d.1929), a Businessman & MP and in 1935 the Estate was bought by Cecil Michaelis (d.1997) of South Africa, who became a successful Artist. His Family sold it in 2000 to Bernard Taylor, a Merchant Banker, who with his wife Sarah & son Henry much improved the House and adjacent land

Rycote has been owned by many important Families such as the de Mandeville’s, the Norris’s and the Bertie’s.  Originally Rycote was formed from 2 Separate Manors. The larger of the 2 Manors was Rycote Magna (Great Rycote). The smaller Manor was known as Rycote Parva (Little Rycote).   Rycote Magna & Rycote Parva probably ceased to exist from December 1539 when Sir John Williams was Granted Licence to create Rycote Park.

Map of Oxford County

In May 1200 Fulk de Rycote and his wife Matilda (neé Visdelou) acquired Rycote Magna from Hugh de Malaunay for 50 Marks of Silver  The Descent of Rycote Magna through the de Rycote Family, however, is not entirely clear.  In 1212 Alexander, son of Richard, is recorded as holding one Knight’s Fee in RycoteFulk de Rycote cited as being Lord of Rycote and a supporter of King John in 1215.  William Farrer records that a Fulk de Rycote was restored to his Lands in 1217.  The Fulk de Rycote who was Lord of Rycote in 1215 died c.1233.   F N Craig also asserts that the Fulk de Rycote who acquired Rycote Magna in 1200 died c.1233.  It is clear that a Fulk de Rycote was active in the 1220s.  A Fulk de Rycote is recorded in the Curia Regis Rolls in 1221, 1224 & 1231; in the Sandford Cartulary of the Knights Templarc.1225; and as a Justice of the Assize in 1223 & 1229.  The 1221 entry in the Curia Regis Rolls records that Fulk was the son of Richard de Rycote.  This may indicate that Fulk was possibly the brother of Alexander who held the Knight’s Fee in Rycote in 1212.   The death of a Fulk de Rycote, c.1233, is confirmed by an entry in the Close Rolls in 1233 for the appointment of a new Coroner for Oxfordshire in place of the late Fulk de Rycote.  Fulk de Rycote, Lord of Rycote (Oxfordshire), was among those on the King’s side in 1215 and acted on various Commissions before his death in or about 1233.  He was succeeded by Fulk son of William de Rycote, then a Minor.  He came of age before 1247 and about 1260 was Coroner for Oxfordshire.  He acted as Sheriff of that County in 1263 and apparently took the Baronial Side in the Civil War.  Possibly owing to Political differences.

A Fulk de Rycote is recorded as holding the Knight’s Fee in Rycote Magna in 1235-1236. Craig claims that this Fulk de Rycote had come of age by 1250 and died in 1302.  His date of birth would therefore not be later than 1229.   He is said to be the son of William de Rycote.  Craig also asserts that William de Rycote was the son of Fulk de Rycote (d. c.1233) and Margaret Visdelou.  The Fulk de Rycote who died in 1302 married Margaret, daughter of Sir Adam le Despenser.  The marriage produced a son, Fulk (b. 1295), and a daughter Lady Cecilia de Scalebrok.  It is probable that there were 2 Fulk de Rycotes who lived between 1233 & 1302.  In 1244 a Fulk de Rycote is named as a Surety for the Bail of Geoffrey de Stocwell.  If this is the same Fulk de Rycote who died in 1302, it would place his date of birth as being no later than 1223.  It would also entail that he would have been aged at least 72 upon the birth of Fulk de Rycote in 1295.

Fulk de Rycote (b.1295) was proved to be of age on 6th December 1317.  The document records his date of Birth as 16th November 1295 and that he was Baptised in the presence of his father of the same name in the Chapel at Rycote.  He appears to have died between 23rd December 1360 & 25th January 1361.  On 23 December 1360 Fulk de Rycote is cited as holding the Knight’s Fee in Rycote whilst on 25th January 1361 John de Rycote is recorded as having paid Homage to Prince Edward for the Manor which he held by Knight’s Service.  However, an entry in Inquisitions Post Mortem, stating that Fulk de Rycote held the Knight’s Fee in Rycote in May 1372, may indicate an alternative Descent of the Manor.  John de Rycote’s date of birth is unclear. Prince Edward’s order for the Restoration of his Lands, on 4th February 1361, states that he was of full age.  An entry in the Close Rolls of April 1348 records a John de Rycote as owing a debt of £100 with a Fulk de Holcote to William de Osberton.  The Wiltshire Feet of Fines for 1380 cites a 1372 Concord identifying John de Rycote as the son of Fulk de Rycote and the father of John de Rycote.  The elder John de Rycote is said to have married Elizabeth Gernon by whom, in addition to his son John, he had a daughter Katharine.  A John de Rycote died prior to 25th August 1400, on which date the Sheriff of Oxford was issued Orders to cause Elections to replace the deceased John de Rycote & Thomas Barentyn as Verderers (Officers) in Rockingham Forest.  A mutilated Deed of 1398-9 which states that the Lands of the deceased John de Rycote were in the possession of Nicholas Clerke.  Nicholas Clerke married Katharine de Rycote, daughter of Elizabeth Gernon.  Nicholas Clerke took the de Rycote Surname.

The Manors
After the Conquest the 4-Hides that had belonged to the King’s Thegn Wulfwine passed to Aubrey de Vere, who retained that Estate in Demesne in 1086.  By then he had Granted to Rainald another ¾-Hide which Aubrey had allegedly usurped from Godric, another King’s man.  By the 1150s Aubrey’s Manors were entirely sub-infeudated.  The Tenancy-in-Chief remained with his descendants, the Earls of Oxford.  Their Lordship over Little Wilbraham (Cambs), whose Tenants owed Castle Ward to Hedingham Castle (Essex), was regularly recorded until the mid 15thC,  though forgotten by 1550.

Of the 2 Manors into which Aubrey’s Land was divided by 1150, one, later Chamberlains, later called Rycotes Manor, was possibly held by Aleran, recorded in 1086, and next by his son Robert the Constable, whose son, another Robert, was Tenant in 1166.  The Overlord Aubrey, Earl of Oxford (d.1194), gave Robert’s sister & heir Beatrice with her Lands in marriage to his Chamberlain Jordan (d. c.1200).  Beatrice died c.1223.  Her son Martin the Chamberlain held the Manor as ½ Knight’s Fee by 1232, and perhaps until 1253.  He was succeeded by Jordan Chamberlain (fl.1270).  Millicent Chamberlain, who had the Manor as Dower in 1279, was presumably his Widow.  John Chamberlain, Lord by 1291, was dead in 1294 when his heir was a Minor.  His eldest son John, of age in 1307,  died childless in 1310.  His brother Martin, then aged 18, held the Manor until after 1327William Chamberlain, his son & successor by 1345, died in 1351. His daughter & heir Cecily married Andrew of Bures, of Suffolk.  Denise Chamberlain, probably William’s Widow, held the Manor c.1360.  Cecily was dead by 1365, Andrew retaining the Estate by courtesy.  After he died in 1369 the Chamberlain Lands were divided between William’s 2 sisters: Little Wilbraham fell to Catherine (d.1371). She married William Phelip of Dennington (Suff). who apparently bought out the Rights of Brian Hemesi, her son by an earlier marriage.

By 1150 the other half of the Veres’ Manor probably belonged to Sabina, whose 2 elder children by one Robert, Adam & William, both left no sons. Their younger brother Humphrey was probably the Humphrey of Little Wilbraham whose Widow Parnel held half the Advowson in the 1190s and claimed Dower c.1199. Their daughter and heir Alice married William Talmasche, from Suffolk. He held the Manor as ½ Knight’s Fee c.1235, and, later Knighted, died after 1250. Alice survived in the early 1260s. In 1272 their son Hugh Talmasche Granted his Wilbraham lands, c.100 acres, to Walter of Little Wilbraham and his son Edmund le Rus. Edmund held 100 a, besides his Ancestral 40 a, in 1279, when another 100 a. of former Talmasche land had been alienated; 44 a. held in fee-farm was attached to Roger Loveday’s Great Wilbraham Estate. By 1285 the Ruses’ share of the Talmasche Manor had probably been sold to Bishop Robert Burnell, the Chancellor, who died holding it in 1292. His brother & heir Sir Philip Burnell died in 1294.  In 1323 Sir Philip’s daughter & eventual successor Maud and her husband John Haudlo had 170 acres at Little Wilbraham settled on them.  In 1302, however, the former Talmasche Fee was supposedly held by Sir John FitzRalph and in 1346 by John Lovetot & John Burwell (d. after 1351), who in 1339 styled himself Lord of Little Wilbraham.  Probably taking advantage of Royal approval given to the Knights Templar c.1284 to possess £20 worth of Land at Little Wilbraham, their successors the Knights Hospitaller owned by 1338, with Great Wilbraham Temple Manor, 124 acres of Arable with customary Land in Little Wilbraham.  After their suppression that Land passed with Temple Manor, often said to have Lordship in Little Wilbraham, where its holding comprised c.140 acres in 1717, and, after various purchases, c.230 acres by 1786.

In 1788 Thomas Watson Ward (II) sold the Land, but not the Lordship, to John Gordon, Archdeacon & Precentor of Lincoln, (d.1793).  His son George, Dean of Lincoln from 1809, emerged at Inclosure in 1801 with c.353 acres ¾ in the South-east End of the Parish.  After he died in 1845, his Little Wilbraham Land was sold, 270 acres being bought in 1849 by Col, later Gen, John Hall (d.1872). He left it in 1872 as part of his Estate named from 6-mile Bottom to his nephew William Henry Bullock (d.1902), who took the name of Hall.  W H Hall’s son, Alexander Cross Hall, sold the whole Estate in 1912-13 to the Financier, Sir Ernest Cassel, whose daughter Amelia Maud married Col W W Ashley, later Lord Mount Temple.  When Cassel died in 1921 his 6-Mile Bottom Estate was assigned to their younger daughter, Ruth Clarisse Mary, who married successively Capt Alan S Cunningham-Reid (divorced 1940), who occupied it with her c.1920-35, Capt E J Gardner (divorced 1943) & T P H Cholmondeley, Lord Delemere (divorced 1955).  After Lady Delemere died in 1986 6-Mile Bottom Hall (Newmarket) was sold in 1987 while Station Farm, formerly 6-Mile Bottom Farm was assigned to her son Mr N R Cunningham Reid.
General Hall established his local Seat in the 1850s at Westley Cottage, later the Cottage, at 6-Mile Bottom. About 1870 the Prince of Wales sometimes visited it on Shooting Parties.  W H Hall often lived there until the picturesquely thatched house was destroyed by fire in 1899. It was rebuilt in 1900 as 6-Mile Bottom Hall in a Tudor style, in red Brick with half-Timbered Gables on its Garden Front.  It had 5 Reception & 10 Bedrooms.  Let after 1902 to Tenants including the American Millionaire J Pierpont Morgan, it was later used by its Owners in the Racing Season.
By 1279 Anglesey Priory in Bottisham had built up a Demesne holding in Little Wilbraham, including c.35 acres held of the Chamberlain Fee & 55 acres of the Talmasche Fee, mostly acquired from Walter ‘the nephew’ and his men before 1235.  Anglesey also had Lordship over c.67 acres of Freehold, partly once held of Walter, and c.60 acres of Customary Land given by Alice Talmasche after 1250.  The Priory obtained smaller gifts of Land & Rents up to the 1270s and others were Licenced in 1338 & 1342. By the 1350s, Anglesey Manor had its own Court.  The Priory owned the Manor until the Dissolution.  Having Leased it out from the 1560s to the 1610s, the Crown sold the Lordship with Halkhouse Farm (80a) c.1615 to the Londoner Thomas Wale.  By Will proved 1625 Wale gave the Manor to the City of Coventry in Trust for a School at Monk Kirby (Warks) and the Poor of Coventry.  Thereafter the Corporation possessed the Lordship & Coventry’s Farm, with 120 acres of Arable before, and c.143a after Inclosure.  In 1924 it sold 156a of Farmland.
St Catharine’s College (Camb), which owned some Land by 1588, Let 5 acres allotted to it in 1801 to Corpus Christi c.1870.

Monks Kirby School

Phelip, Lord in 1392, was dead by 1405, and his Widow Gillian occupied Little Wilbraham in 1412.  Their son, Sir William Phelip,  Chamberlain to Henry VI, styled Lord Bardolf from 1437, was Lord in 1428.  He died in 1441, leaving a Life Interest in Chamberlains to his wife Joan Bardolf. Their only child Elizabeth  (d. c.1440) had married John, Viscount Beaumont, who was Guardian of their Minor son Henry Beaumont from 1441. Henry and Joan were both dead by 1450.  After John fell in Battle in 1460, his son William, the extant Viscount, had the Livery, but suffered Forfeiture as a Lancastrian in 1461.  Chamberlains Manor, though assigned to his wife Margaret in 1464, passed by Exchange c.1467 from the King to the Lawyer Richard Quatermains (d.1477) of Rycote, to whom William Beaumont released his Rights.

Under a Licence of 1473 Quatermains gave the Manor to endow his Chantry Chapel of St Michael at Rycote, whose Chaplain held his 1st Court in 1482.  Succeeding Chaplains were probably appointed by the Lords of Rycote; one c.1535 ordered the Wilbraham Tenants to pay him their Rents.  In 1540 Sir John Williams of Thame, newly Lord of Rycote, conveyed the Chantry’s Wilbraham Manor to Serjeant John Hinde of Madingley, regularising the position in 1550 through a formal Crown Grant of all the suppressed Chantry’s Lands.

Hinde’s Widow Ursula & eldest son Francis had Settled Rycotes by 1557 on his younger son Thomas, who after 1564 conveyed it in Trust for Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, formally Owner from 1570.  In 1569 the Trustees Leased the Demesne for 99-yrs to its Tenant Robert Oliver (d.1596), whose son John left the Lease in 1615 to his daughter Dorothy.  It remained in his Family until 1629 & expired in 1668. Thenceforth the Lordship and the Demesne Farm (303a), both remained with Corpus Christi. The Farm, for which c.235 acres were allotted at Inclosure, was held on Beneficial Leases into the early 19thC, after 1770 by the Rev Thomas Temple (d.1809).  The College sold c.165 acres of its Farmland c.1916 to Elijah Moore & Hawk Mill with 66 acres in 1919 to Reuben Moore, its occupant since the 1880s.


The Hall Yard of Rycotes Manor had by the 1550s been sold to the local Beamont Family, and there was no Manorial Farmhouse in the late 17th or 18thCs.

Early OS Map of Oxford County

Little Rycote Manor
In 1086 Geoffrey de Mandeville held a Hide & a Yardland at Rycote, occupied under him by a Norman Tenant.  The Overlordship passed presumably to Mandeville’s heirs (Earls of Essex from 1140), but by the 1230s the Manor was held of the Earldom of Oxford, and in 1279 it was reckoned at ½ Knight’s Fee.   Geoffrey’s Tenant in 1086 was Sewel of Oseville, whose Family was associated with the Mandeville’s elsewhere.  A later Sewel of Oseville was mentioned in the mid 12thC, and a namesake c.1200, while another Sewel was a Minor in 1220.  By 1242–43 the Lord was probably Gilbert of Stanford, whose grandson Adam held the Manor in 1279.  The later Descent is obscure. In 1316 the Lord was probably Hugh Spencer, and in 1346 John Spencer,  but by 1428 Little Rycote was held as a Knight’s Fee by Richard Quatremain (d.1477), the Lord of Great Rycote, whose Widow Sibyl (d.1483) retained it until her death.  Land sometimes described as a Manor passed with Albury from Agnes Brown (or Brome) to Robert Brown (d.1485), who was succeeded by his son Christopher & grandson John.  In 1540, however, Sir John Williams secured the Title to both Rycotes, and thereafter the 2-Manors Descended together.

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