Until its Unification with Chalgrove in 1932, the Tiny Parish of Warpsgrove comprised only 335 acres. In the 13th and early-14thCs it included a relatively prosperous Village of around 12-houses, but Population declined after the Black Death, and by 1453 it was reportedly Deserted. The Abandoned Church had disappeared by the late 18thC, when the Settlement comprised 3 recently Established Farmhouses and a similar number of Labourers’ Cottages. Two Farmhouses and a Cottage remained in 2013.
Parish Boundaries & Landscape
Warpsgrove formed a separate Manor by 1086, its Boundaries partly defined by those of neighbouring Estates. The short Northern Boundary with Haseley (along Haseley Brook) was established by 1002, while the longer & straighter Eastern Boundary with Pyrton (to which Warpsgrove may formerly have belonged) followed that of the Hundred. Some stretches there remained uncertain in the early 13thC, when the Vicar of Pyrton protested at Loss of Territory during a Perambulation of the Boundary near Standhill. The Southern Boundary abutted a detached portion of Lewknor, in which Warpsgrove’s Inhabitants enjoyed Rights of Common Pasture until 1235, while the Western Boundary was probably defined by the creation of Chalgrove Manor before 1066, Warpsgrove’s North-Western end there narrowing so as to exclude Chalgrove Common. The Boundaries remained unchanged until Warpsgrove’s incorporation into Chalgrove.
The Parish lay on Gault Clay, falling gently North-Westwards from c.75M on the Easington Boundary to 65Mm. at Haseley Brook. The heavy Clay soils provided rich grazing Grounds for Beef & Dairy Cattle, and in the mid 19thC the Parish’s small Inclosed Fields (with a median size of 13a.) were all under Grass. Small hedged Fields remained a feature in the early 21stC, interspersed with several small Woodland Plantations; earlier, trees were restricted to Hedgerows & Orchards. A 20thC Sewage Treatment Plant North of the remaining Houses served the WW2 Airfield at Chalgrove, and in the 1960s–70s a small Reservoir was constructed next to Haseley brook.
The Village developed along a Road from Chalgrove to Little Haseley, probably that mentioned c.1225 along with Roads to Easington & Standhill. The Road was still clearly marked on 18th & early 19thC Maps,and though the Section through Pyrton Parish was apparently disused by the late 19thC, and the stretch beyond Warpsgrove Sewage Plant by 1960, by the early 21stC its whole length was reinstated as a Footpath, the Section to Warpsgrove’s Houses being roughly surfaced for Vehicles. A separate Path from Warpsgrove joined the Easington–Golder Road near Round Hill in 1767, but was later replaced by a less direct Route further West. No direct route to Upper Standhill or Stoney Lane is known, and a Path towards Lower Standhill from Chalgrove (crossing Warpsgrove’s Northern part) was Lost when Chalgrove Airfield was built in 1943.
The Parish had no Carriers, Inhabitants relying presumably on those Based in Chalgrove. Post was delivered from Tetsworth and later from Wallingford during the 19thC, except in the 1890s when Letters were collected from Chalgrove Post Office. A Morning Delivery from Chalgrove resumed by the end of the Century.
In 1086 Warpsgrove had 6 Tenant Households headed by one Villanus, 4 Bordars, and one servus or slave. Numbers doubled by 1279, when 2 Villeins, 9 Cottars, and a free Tenant were recorded, implying a total population of perhaps 50–60. The Rector may have also resided, and 7 inhabitants paid Tax in the early 14thC, suggesting a small but relatively prosperous community. The Black Death almost certainly initiated population decline: in 1377 Poll Tax was paid by only 12 inhabitants aged over 14, and by 1453 the Parish was reportedly deserted. Thereafter Warpsgrove was omitted from taxation lists. A Shepherd lived there in the early 17thC, but no other permanent residents are known until the early 18thC, when a few Families were mentioned in Chalgrove’s Parish Registers. Three resident Farmers petitioned the Bishop in 1750, their recently established Farmhouses remaining probably the only Dwellings c.1780. Thereafter Farm workers increased the population to 25 (in 6 houses) by 1801, and numbers fluctuated between 19 & 36 (in 3–6 houses) for the rest of the 19thC. Population peaked in 1911 at 37 people, falling to 16 (in 4 houses) by 1931, the last year in which separate figures were given.
Finds of pottery, animal bone, ditches, pits & coins in the South of the Parish suggest Iron-Age & Roman Occupation characteristic of local Rural Sites. The Anglo-Saxon place name means ‘the Grove by the Bridle-path’: ‘grove‘ (OE grāf) may have denoted an area of Coppiced Woodland, suggesting specialist Wood Production in a largely Arable area. The Bridle-path was possibly Stoney Lane or Knightsbridge Lane, a long-standing Route from Oxford to Henley-on-Thames which passes through neighbouring Pyrton Parish. The Settlement may have begun as an Outlier of a larger Estate, supplying Coppice Poles for Fuel, though by 1086 it was an Independent Manor with no recorded Woodland. The Church (Established probably in the 12thC) stood alongside the Main Road, and the Medieval Village most likely developed nearby, close to a minor Tributary of Haseley Brook. Tenants’ Houses in the 1250s lay close together, suggesting a nucleated Settlement. In the 15thC both Church & Village seem to have been largely Abandoned, although in 1519 the Manor’s Lessee received Timber for Repairs, and the Manor House (probably on a Site close to the deserted Church & Village) apparently Discernable in 1612. New Farmhouses were Built in the early-18thC, and by the mid-18thC a small cluster of Buildings stood at the Main Road’s Junction with the Path to Easington, with 2 isolated Dwellings further North. Settlement remained similar in the mid-19thC, when Lane Farm & 3 Cottages lay by the Road near the former Church Site, with Manor & Hill Farms set amidst the Inclosed Fields. Two of Manor Farm’s Cottages were later rebuilt, but only 4-houses were occupied in 1931, and two were removed for the WW2 at Chalgrove. Nissen Huts and other temporary Airfield Buildings briefly extended into the Parish, their clearance leaving only Manor House Farm, Lane Farm, and a nearby Cottage in 2013.
In 1086 Warpsgrove was held by William I’s half brother Odo of Bayeux, whose Tenant was probably Hervey de Campeaux. Following Odo’s forfeiture the Manor was added to the Honou of Pontefract (Yorks.), which was held by the Lacy Family until 1311. In 1398 & 1425 the Overlordship belonged to the Earl of March, and passed later to the Crown. The Tenancy of Warpsgrove descended (with Little Haseley) to Hervey’s Yorkshire successors the Skelbrookes, who probably subinfeudated it in the mid-12thC to the resident Foliot Family. Ralph Foliot and his son Richard (who succeeded him) both held from Robert Foliot (d.1186), Bishop of Hereford, and in 1205/6 the Skelbrooke heirs Granted the Service due from Richard’s ½ Knight’s Fee to Richard de Parco of Brightwell Baldwin, adding a further link to the Feudal hierarchy. Richard Foliot remained Lord in 1235/6, but around that time he and other interested parties Granted the Manor to the Knights Templar’s Preceptor of Cowley, moved soon afterwards to Sandford. The Preceptor owed Suit of Court to the de Parco Overlords. The Templars retained the Manor (reckoned in 1279 at a Knight’s Fee) until the Order’s suppression in 1308.
Communications in Ewelme Hundred c.1800, showing Major Roads & Turnpikes and some earlier features.
A Royal Keeper accounted for its Revenues in 1308 & 1311/12 (when William of Skelbrooke remained Mesne Lord), but by 1324 it belonged to the Knights Hospitallers, who Leased it with Easington to Sir John Stonor and his brother Adam. Sir William Stonor held the Lease in 1483, and Sir William Barentin (d.1549) of Little Haseley from 1519. In 1540 (following the Hospitallers’ Suppression) the Manor reverted to the Crown, which in 1544 sold it to Barentin and others. It seems later to have been divided between the Barentins & Harcourts, but was reunited by Sir Christopher Hatton, who in 1588 sold it to Anthony Molyns, Michael Molyns & John Simeon. Anthony Molyns (d.1589) left his 3rd to his daughters Margaret (wife of Martin Tichborne) and Anne (wife of John Simeon of Brightwell Baldwin, d.1618), while Michael Molyns’s son Barentine retained another 3rd in 1626. John Simeon’s son Sir George reunited the Manor, however, and in 1631 sold it to Sir Robert Dormer (d.1649) of Ascott who was succeeded by his son Sir William (d.1683). He or his son John sold it to Richard Blackall, one of a local Landed Family, who by the early 18thC had ‘parcelled the Land into 5 or 6 hands’; 6 Landowners still paid Land Tax in 1785, amongst them the Farmer Henry Lewingdon, who claimed Sporting Rights. Some Consolidation occurred in the early 19thC, and by the 1840s there were only 3 Landowners, of whom William Cozens (owner of Manor Farm) was the largest. Their successors by the 1870s were John Stevens, Samuel Dickers, & Lyford’s Abingdon Charity, and 3 non-resident Landowners remained in 1910. After WW1 2 of the Parish’s Farms were bought by their Tenants, William Franklin & George Nixey; the Franklin Estate was sold in 1949 to RN Richmond-Watson of Brightwell Baldwin, who sold it in 1955.
Manor House-Warpsgrove House
The location of the Foliots’ House and of the Templars Grange is unknown, but was probably close to the former Church & Village. No later Lords were Resident, but in 1519 the Lessee was given Timber to Repair ‘Houses standing upon the Site of the Manor’, and a Building labelled Warpsgrove House was shown on William Webb’s Map of Golder Manor in 1612. The Map-maker identified it with the former Parish Church (by then almost certainly in Ruins), suggesting that the 2 lay closely adjacent. Possibly that was the House inhabited by a Resident Shepherd or Yeoman in the early 17thC, and Warpsgrove House was again mentioned in 1643 in an Account of the Civil War Battle of Chalgrove. Its date of Demolition is unknown.
Warpsgrove House in 1643 was almost certainly a Ruin. In the intervening years the Ste was scavenged for Building Material. Warpsgrove Manor Cottage (now Battlefield Manor) built in the early 18thC may have plundered Stone from Warpsgrove House. Three Stone Cottages were built 100-yrds from Warpsgrove House and probably had 1st pick of the House’s Stone. Warpsgrove Lane does a sharp Left towards Hitchcock’s Farm and on the corner directly ahead were the Cottages. They were demolished in early in the 19thC yet some of this Stone has survived in the Stone walls close to The Lamb Inn, Mill Lane, Chalgrove.
The present Manor Farm was built probably by Henry Lewingdon in the early-to-mid 18thC, on a Site some distance from the former Church. In 1874 it was Brick-built & Tiled, and included a Parlour, Sitting Room, 4 Bedrooms, and 2 Attics, together with a range of Outbuildings. Following Fire Damage in 1956, it was modernised and extended in the late 20thC.
Economic History – The Agicultural Landscape
Open Fields probably covered most of the Parish in the 13th & early-14thCs. The Lord’s Open-field Arable lay intermingled with that of his Tenants, much of it extending from Headlands abutting the Roadside, and in the 1230s Richard Foliot’s Demesne extended also into neighbouring Golder. Pasture was available in the Falow Field and in ditched Closes, while Meadow presumably adjoined the Streams. Woodland was scarce: in 1519 the manor included only 100 Oaks dispersed in Hedgerows and around the former Manorial centre. The Village’s apparent Desertion suggests that the Open Fields had been Inclosed and laid down to Grass by the mid-15thC, probably by the Stonors. The Parish remained almost wholly Pasture in the 18th & 19thCs, and though c.50 a. were cropped in 1880, Agricultural depression led to renewed expansion of Grassland over the following Decades.
Medieval Tenant & Demesne Farming
In 1086 the Demesne contained Land for 2 Ploughteams, and the Manor’s annual value (as in 1066) was £4. No Meadow, Pasture, or Woodland was expressly noted, and Arable Farming remained dominant until the Black Death. Richard Foliot’s Grant to the Knights Templar in the 1230s included a Barn (grangia) outside the main Manorial Curtilage, with 6 Strips of Land near a Stream (rīth), 105 a. of Demesne Arable with its appurtenant Meadow, 2 Tenanted half-Yardlands and a Cotland, and Pasture for a Plough-ox and 3 Cows. In 1279 the 2 half-yardlanders owed cash Rents of 2s-6d each, and ploughing, harrowing, threshing & woodcarting services; one Cottar held 4 a. for 2s annual Rent and Harvest Services, while 8 others each held 1½ a. for Services and 12d Rent. Presumably some were also wage earners, like the inhabitant employed as a Dairyman at Cuxham in 1289–90. Following the Templars’ Suppression in 1308, the Royal Keeper accounted for Sales of grain including wheat, dredge, & maslin. Livestock included cattle, sheep & horses (used for Carting), while Pigeons were bred in a Dovecot. Tenants’ Services were already commuted, with Demesne Labour supplied by hired Servants (famuli). Grain Sales accounted for nearly a 3rd of total receipts in 1311/12, when expenses included Harvest-workers’ wages & repairs to ploughs & carts. Repairs were also made to a wheat barn, granary & dairy, and the costs of the sheep flock included medicines to treat scab and other diseases. From 1324 until the late 15th century the Hospitallers leased Warpsgrove and Easington to the Stonors of Stonor Park, initially for 10-yrs at an annual Rent of £18. In the 1470s Sir William Stonor (d.1494) was a prominent Wool Exporter, who may have contributed to or taken advantage of the Village’s apparent Desertion. Possibly he inclosed the Open Fields in order to extend his Sheep Grazing.
Farms & Farming Since 1500
The Parish appears to have been largely uninhabited in the 16thC, and was probably used for Grazing by Outsiders such as Sir William Barentin (d.1549), who Leased the Manor from 1519 at £13-6s-8d. a year, and bought it in 1544, subsequently keeping Colts there. A Shepherd lived in Warpsgrove c.1593–1617, presumably as a Tenant of Barentin’s successors, and the Parish may have been more fully repopulated in the early 18thC following its Division among 5 or 6 Landowners. The Yeoman Charles White lived there c.1715–17 before moving to Rofford, while others Settled more permanently. Three Farms were Established by 1750, run by John Franklin (d.1759), Henry Lewingdon (d.1783), & Thomas Mott, who together complained to the Bishop about Tithe Payments. Around 1780 Franklin’s son John occupied 5 Closes totalling c.60 a., 3 of which produced an estimated 27 Tons of Hay each year. Two other Closes were grazed by 12 Dairy Cows and 20 Sheep & Lambs, save for 6 a. planted with wheat & beans. Franklin employed Day Labourers from Chalgrove, but for the most part depended on Family Labour including that of his Kinsman & Lodger William Brown. Mott’s and Lewingdon’s Farms were apparently larger, and Mott remained for more than 40-yrs before retiring to Chalgrove c.1778, when he was succeeded by the Grazier Richard White (d.1796).
Of Warpsgrove’s 3 Resident Farmers in 1785, Franklin and the younger Henry Lewingdon (d.1825) were Owner-occupiers, while White Leased his Farm from 2 non-resident Landowners. Other outsiders included John Allnatt of Crowmarsh, whose three closes of meadow (covering 30 a.) yielded 30 tons of hay in 1779. Additional freehold meadow was advertized in 1764 and 1772, and land regularly changed hands. The Agriculturalist Arthur Young was impressed at the yields of milk, meat & manure produced by James Bonner’s long-horned cattle in the early 1800s, and White, Lewingdon, & John Franklin (d.1802) made considerable profits.
By the mid-19thC 3 Ring-fenced Pasture Farms covered the whole Parish. Manor Farm (168 a.), formerly Henry Lewingdon’s, was let in the 1840s–60s to William Atkinson, who employed 5-workers; at its Sale in 1857 (when it was mostly Grass) his annual Rent was £376. John Franklin’s Lane Farm was increased to 82 a. by Henry Saunders of Brightwell Baldwin, who sold it in 1837 to Hugh Hamersley of Pyrton; his Tenant James Bryant ran it with one man in the 1850s, and was succeeded by his son William. Hill Farm (82 a.) covered the Parish’s Northern quarter, and in 1848 was owned and occupied by Henry Hamp. In 1870 grass covered more than 80% of the Parish, supporting Herds of c.80 Dairy and other Cattle, and 230 Sheep. Fewer than 50 a. were sown with wheat, barley, & fodder crops. Manor Farm included a Dairy & Churn House, 2 Stone & Tiled Cattle-feeding Sheds, and 3 isolated Cowhouses in the Fields; it was sold in 1874, when the yearly Tenant Thomas Smith paid an increased annual Rent of £400. During the Agricultural Depression of the late 19th & early 20thCs the Arable largely reverted to Grass, but otherwise the Parish’s Farming changed little, notwithstanding some decline in Cattle & Sheep numbers by 1910.
From the 1880s Manor & Hill Farms were run by Bailiffs for non-Resident Landowners, while Lane Farm was occupied in 1891 by George Nixey, one of a prolific local Farming Family with interests in several Parishes. In 1920 Nixey purchased the Farm, which he managed from Langley Hall in Chalgrove; likewise William Franklin, Tenant (and later Owner) of Manor Farm, combined it with Manor Farm in Chalgrove. In 1941 Nixey kept 44 Cattle on his still 82-a. Grass Farm, employing a single Worker. Manor Farm (Owner-occupied by S C Franklin) maintained 92 cattle & 128 sheep on 167 a. of Meadow & Pasture, while 20 a. (probably in Chalgrove) were cropped with wheat & oats. The Farmhouses at Manor & Lane Farms were retained, but Hill Farm was Demolished in the 1920s or later, and its lLnd (still 82 a.) Farmed from Outside the Parish.
Social Character & Life of the Community
Warpsgrove’s 12th and early 13thC Lords were probably Resident: both Ralph & Richard Foliot were ‘of Warpsgrove‘, and almost certainly occupied the manorial buildings which they Granted to the Templars in the 1230s. In 1224 an opponent in a Land Dispute was briefly imprisoned in their House there, and about the same time Pyrton’s Vicar accused Richard Foliot of altering the Warpsgrove–Standhill Boundary to his own Benefit, stealing the Vicar’s Plough, trespassing in his Meadow, uprooting Trees, and damaging Buildings. Foliot’s Tenants included unfree Peasants & Cottars as well as Freemen, of whom several followed Foliot in Granting Land to the Templars. By 1279 only one free Tenant (Agnes Pyron) remained.
The Templars maintained a Grange at Warpsgrove, from which they also managed their Easington Estate. In 1306 they paid 18s-10d in Tax out of a total Parish Assessment of 22s-4½d; the other Taxpayers were presumably Tenants, who appear to have formed a small but relatively prosperous Community. Particularly prominent were the Woodrows: Ralph Woodrow was assessed in the period 1306–27 on Goods worth between £3-1s & £6, although other Family members were less well off. John Lovel’s Taxable Goods increased in value from £6 in 1316 to more than £8 in 1327, when Henry of Warpsgrove, exceptionally, paid on Goods worth £12-10s. By contrast Geoffrey James was Taxed on Goods worth only £2, although noone in 1327 paid the minimum liability of 6d., and in 1334 the Parish’s Assessment of £1-14s-4d. was relatively high for so small a place. Two Warpsgrove Inhabitants were involved in 1348 in an Attack on Little Haseley.
Following the Black Death only 12 Adult Inhabitants paid the Poll Tax of 1377, although Families such as the Lovels remained, and in 1432 provided a Parish Tithingman. By 1453, however, Warpsgrove was reportedly deserted, and seems to have remained so until the late 16thC, when a resident Shepherd was presumably one of several Livestock Keepers occupying temporary or permanent Dwellings for all or part of the year. No other Inhabitants are known until 1710, when an Order was issued to remove a man ‘of disordered mind’ to Tetsworth where he had lived 12-yrs previously. The White family were resident by 1717, while Parish Tithingmen in the period 1713– 20 included Thomas Baker, Joseph Dewberry, John Franklin, Francis Lewingdon & Richard Wade.
Resettlement was presumably associated with creation of the 3 18thC Farms run by the Franklins, Lewingdons & Motts: Thomas Mott’s son was born in the Parish in 1735, and some other resident Families (notably the Whites) had children Baptized at Chalgrove or Great Haseley in the 1740s– 70s. The Farmer John Franklin was resident in 1754, and though Henry Lewingdon & Mott then lived in neighbouring Parishes, all 3 subsequently settled at Warpsgrove, where Lewingdon employed a Gamekeeper. An illegitimate birth was noted c.1790. In 1801, 12 out of Warpsgrove’s 25 Inhabitants were Employed in Agriculture, most of the others (including 10 Females) presumably comprising wives & children. Resident labouring families included the Spicers & Terrys, who each had at least 8 children during the period 1809–32. Several older Families (including the Franklins & Lewingdons) moved away, but the 70-yr-old Farmer Henry White remained in 1841, and while many Inhabitants lived in the Parish for only a few years as Farmers, Labourers, or Servants, others remained considerably longer. Few had been born in Warpsgrove even by the end of the Century, although most (like the Coleses & Kings of Chalgrove and the Nixeys of Brill) came from nearby.