Rycote Park

RycoteHouseSewell

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This Map of the Rycote Estate was produced to accompany the Sale at Auction on 31 May 1911 by London-based land agents Messrs Knight, Frank & Rutley in conjunction with Oxford’s Messrs Franklin & Jones. This particular document was reproduced from the 2nd Edition of the Ordnance Survey 25in Map, with a number of key enhancements introduced to facilitate the Sale. Most noticeably, the M has been reduced in scale to around 17ins to 1 mile. Colour has been added to differentiate the individual Plots of Land made available for Sale as different Lot Numbers. The names of Farms and Buildings have also been added in a Font slightly different from that employed by Ordnance Survey.  Scale: 1:3,680.

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In this View, the Moat runs along the Western Wing of the Mansion, the Facade and is incorporated into the Formal Gardens to the East.  It appears from this Plan that the Moat completes the Circuit of the Building.  Archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of the Moat at the Rear of the Mansion.  The Entrance to the Mansion was approached by an Avenue of Trees and a Bridge spanning the Moat. The Arms of John, Baron Williams of Thame, appeared above the Doorway, a possible indication that the Mansion may have been built for him.  During the Rebellions of the summer of 1549 Rycote was attacked by Rioters who tore down the Park Boundaries and killed all of the Deer.  In the 1770s the 4th Earl of Abingdon commissioned the Garden Designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown to re-landscape the Park. The Formal gardens shown here were obliterated by Brown. One of the new features he introduced was a 13-acre Serpentine Lake.

Rycote has been owned by many important Families such as the de Mandevilles, the Norrises and the Berties.  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.

The great mystery surrounding Rycote’s lost Tudor Mansion is for whom was it built? To date, no documentary evidence concerning the precise date of the Mansion’s construction has been discovered. Historians have differed in their Interpretation of the Mansion’s Architectural Styling with suggested construction dates ranging from the early 1500s to the 1550s. The Tudor Mansion, therefore, can only have been commissioned by one of 3 individuals: Sir Richard Fowler, Giles Heron or John, Baron Williams of Thame.

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Robert Plot ‘s Map of Oxfordshire 1676

Natural History of Oxfordshire ~ Robert Plot

In 1770, and probably prior to that date, the South Oxfordshire Country, or a considerable portion of it, was Hunted by the then Lord Abingdon, who kennelled his Pack, known as the Rycote Hounds, at his Seat of that name.  In 1784, Lord Abingdon handed the Hounds & his Coverts to the Rev John Loder, whose Country thenceforward extended from beyond Fairford in Gloucester to Thame in Oxfordshire, & Stokenchurch (now in Bucks). The remains of the old Kennels at Rycote still stand, but the Mansion was destroyed by Fire.  From 1814 Mr William Codrington, of Wroughton House, Wiltshire, Hunted the choicest part of the South Oxfordshire Country, i.e. that around Thame & Tetsworth, ‘The Three Pigeons‘ being then, as until recent times, a favourite Meet

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The Three Pigeons 1930  – Samuel Allsops Brewery

Part of the Country was also Hunted in 1822 by Mr Lowndes Stone, of Brightwell Park.  In 1824 & 1826 Mr Harvey Combe, then Master of the Old Berkeley Hunt (Glos), took over, besides that Country, the Area at present Hunted by the Old Berkshire & South Oxfordshire Hunts, but at a later date handed over the Old Berkshire Country to Lord Kintore, the Hardest Rider of his day.

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South Oxfordshire HuntThe Three Pigeons then Halls Brewery

The question of dividing so large a tract of the Country appears to have arisen in 1832, & in 1834 a Meeting was held at Abingdon with the result that certain Resolutions were formulated, which was carried into effect and considerably altered the Boundaries.  In 1837 Mr Morland lent 10 couple of Hounds to Major Fane of Wormsley, who then resided at Shirburn Lodge and had his Kennels at the foot of Pyrton Hill; with these Hounds, he Hunted what is now known as the South Oxfordshire Hill Country.  In 1841 Mr Morland gave permission to Mr John Shaw Phillips to draw some of his Oxfordshire Coverts, and lent Elsfield & Woodeaton Coverts to the Bicester; it would seem, however, that Mr Phillips had the right to draw the Elsfield Coverts prior to this date, for the New Sporting Magazine of April 1835, contains an account of a good Sporting Run from Stow Wood. On that occasion, Hounds found a Leash of Foxes in one of the Elsfield Woods,