Watlington Manor Estates


In 1068 the Estate, later known as Watlington Manor, was held for 8 hides by Robert d’Oilly, Constable of Oxford Castle.  He died without male heirs and most of his land went to his brother Nigel d’Oilly, but Watlington may have been granted earlier to his daughter Maud, who married firstly Miles Crispin, custodian of Wallingford Castle, and secondly Brian FitzCount, who became Constable of the Castle and Lord of Wallingford Honour on the death of Miles Crispin.  Watlington was later held as a Fee of Wallingford Honour and in 1297 was regarded as being in the Bailiwick of the Honour.  Its Independent status, however, is shown by the fact that when Grants were made of the Honour, specific Grants were usually made of Watlington. This situation may have arisen because of the early history of Watlington Manor. Maud’s possession was evidently disputed by Nigel d’Oilly (d. c.1115) and, according to a statement in a Lawsuit of 1225, his son Robert (II) d’Oilly came to an agreement with Maud, the Lady of Wallingford Honour, by which Watlington & Ipsden were to revert to Robert and his heirs if she died without heirs.  Robert certainly included in 1129 the Advowson of Watlington among the Foundation Properties of Oseney Abbey, and his Grant was confirmed by Henry I between 1129 & 1133.  The Family supported Empress Maud in the Civil Wars of Stephen’s Reign and seems to have lost Watlington after the Rout of Winchester in 1141.  Robert (II) d’Oilly died in 1142 and although his son Henry (I) d’Oilly confirmed the Grant of the Advowson to Oseney, it is doubtful if he ever obtained possession of Watlington Manor; the Estate was forfeited to King Stephen, who gave it to William de Chesney.  Later the King gave it to Halinad de Bidun, a Norfolk Baron and one of the Knights of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, who had changed his allegiance to Stephen.  Bidun granted the Advowson and part of his Demesne land to Oseney between about 1154 and 1162.  He is listed in 1166 as holding Watlington Fee of Wallingford Honour, which was then in the King’s hands.  He died about 1186 and his daughter Sarah, wife of William Paynell, was his heir.  The D’Oilly Family, however, had not relinquished its claim and Oseney was careful to get confirmation of its rights in Watlington from all parties concerned. Henry (II) d’Oilly, described in the Cartulary’s heading to his Charter of Confirmation as Chief Lord, confirmed Grants by the Tenants between 1185 and 1200.  In 1208 he began a Suit against the Paynells, and in 1220 he claimed that a final concord had been made by which William Paynell recognized his claim to the Manor and that Henry had granted him a life interest in it, provided it reverted to Henry and his heirs on William’s death.  From the Pipe Roll it appears that Watlington and other lands were taken into the King’s Hands on the death of Sarah before Michaelmas 1211, when William Paynell paid £100 and a Palfrey for keeping his wife’s Inheritance for life.  William Paynell died about 1215,  and King John seized the Land and committed it to the custody of the Constable of Wallingford, but in 1216 gave it to Peter FitzHerbert.  When peace was restored Henry d’Oilly renewed his claims and obtained a Writ against FitzHerbert, who ‘to avoid labour and expense‘ agreed to acknowledge D’Oilly’s Rights.  Nevertheless, in 1219 Peter FitzHerbert was recorded as holding by the King’s Gift an escheated Fee in Watlington, worth £24.  Both FitzHerbert & D’Oilly were summoned before the King’s Court in 1220 for having made an Agreement over Watlington, which the King maintained was held only in custody (de ballio suo) and not by Gift (de dono).   This Agreement was annulled in 1223, when the King was adjudged Seisin, and both FitzHerbert & D’Oilly lost all Right.  In Edward I’s Reign it was asserted that the Manor had escheated to Henry III on the death of Sarah de Bidun, a Tenant in Chief and that he had given it to his brother.

Henry III, despite the claims of D’Oilly & FitzHerbert, had Granted a Lease of Watlington in 1217 to Nicholas de Molis; and after the Judgement of 1220 various other Leases were made: in 1225 to the Archbishop of Dublin for 50 marks a year in part payment of a debt; in 1227 to Philip d’Aubigny to hold as long as he was Keeper of Wallingford Castle; in 1229 to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, along with the Castle and Honour of Wallingford, during pleasure, to sustain the Earl in the King’s Service; in 1231 to Godfrey de Crowcombe with the Castle, but later in that year Henry III made a perpetual Grant of Watlington Manor with Wallingford Honour and Castle to the Earl of Cornwall to be held by the Service of 3 Knight’s Fees.  Watlington itself was held for 1 Fee.  On the death of Richard’s son and heir Edmund in 1300 the Freemen and Villeins of Watlington were said to be holding the Fee of the Honour, which later in the year reverted to the Crown.

In 1302 Watlington was among the Estates granted by Edward I to Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk.  After Bigod’s death in 1306, Edward II Granted the Manor in 1307 to Piers Gaveston, who was given also the Earldom of Cornwall and Wallingford Honour.  Gaveston’s Estates reverted to the Crown on his death in 1312 & in 1316 Edward II leased Watlington for life for £42 a year to John Knockyn, King’s Yeoman, who already held it during pleasure.  In 1318, however, Queen Isabella, who had been Granted Dower of Wallingford Honour, exchanged one of her other Manors with John Knockyn for Watlington, which was valued at £60.  It reverted to the Crown after her disgrace in 1329 and the downfall of Mortimer and was committed in 1331 to the keeping of Sir John de Stonor.  Edward III granted it later in 1331 to his brother, John of Eltham, who had already been given the Earldom of Cornwall & Wallingford Honour, thus reaffirming the close connection between Watlington and these Honours.  After the death of John of Eltham in 1336 Watlington was Granted in 1337 to Nicholas de la Beche, a devoted servant of Edward III, who superintended the education of the Black Prince and was at one time Constable of the Tower of London and Seneschal of Gascony.  On his death in 1345 the Manor reverted to the Prince, presumably because it was a member of Wallingford Honour, which had been granted to him and his successors.  In 1350 the Prince granted Watlington Manor for life to Sir Roger Cottesfordin support of his Estate as a Knight‘.  Sir Roger, Lord of Bletchingdon and later Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Keeper of Oxford Castle, died in 1375.  On the death of the Black Prince in 1376 the Manor and Park, valued at £40, formed part of the Dower of his Widow Joan of Kent (d.1385).  They then reverted to Richard II, who immediately granted them for life to one of his Knights, Baldwin de Bereford.  This Grant was not revoked until 1404, when Henry, Prince of Wales & Duke of Cornwall (later King Henry V), successfully claimed the Manor as part and parcel of Wallingford Honour.  It was assigned after his death as Dower to his Widow Katherine de Valois, who was returned as holding Lands and Tenements in Watlington for 1 Fee in 1428.   The Crown retained the Manor in its own hands after her death in 1437, until Henry VIII left it in his will to his daughter the Lady Elizabeth.   She retained the Manor in her own hands, but James I Granted it to his son Charles in 1616.  James I had already, however, Leased it in 1613 to a group of London Merchants for £54 11s 1d a year, and in 1617, despite the Grant to Prince Charles, he sold the Lordship to Sir Francis Bacon and others.  They sold off the Demesne land in small lots, leaving the Manor only its Rights & Privileges.   A Fine in 1629 enabled the Lease & Reversion of the Manor to be acquired by a single person, who would thereby become virtually the Lord of the Manor.  These Rights were acquired in 1630 by Thomas Dean of Chalgrove and Edmund Symeon of Pyrton and passed from them through 2 or 3 other Groups to Thomas Allen of Henley, Robert Dobson of Aston Rowant, & Thomas Wiggins of Clare, who held the Manor in 1664.  In 1664 55 Freemen of Watlington, paying a £1 each, purchased the Manor, Preparatory to the Building of the Town Hall on the Waste of the Manor.  By 1780 the shares in the Manor had reached 64 in number.  The Fee Farm Rent of £54 11s 1d was still due to the Crown and was paid until the middle of the Reign of George III, when the Rent was sold to a certain Naphthali Franks, whose descendants were receiving it in 1921.

The Manor does not seem to have been leased to under-Tenants in the Middle Ages after the grant to Baldwin de Bereford, and it was administered by stewards; a John Harpenden, for example, in Queen Katherine’s time; in 1437 William Phellip, Chamberlain of the Household; and in 1438 William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who headed a Commission of Inquiry to discover whether Watlington and certain other Manors, Parcels of Wallingford Honour, were Let at Farm or in the King’s hands.  In 1447 Richard Lyllyng, King’s Sergeant, who already held the ‘Site’, was Granted the ‘keeping of the Manor‘ for life.  There are no later Grants to Stewards recorded and it may be that the Bailiff of the Manor, who in the 14thC had held under the steward, took over his position.  Among the appointments in the second half of the 15thC were 2 King’s Yeomen, and a later Bailiff was Henry Norreys, an intimate of Henry VIII, who was appointed in 1523 and held until his death in 1537.  In 1592 the Bailiff was the Treasurer of the Queen’s Household, the Oxfordshire Magnate, Sir Francis Knollys, who also held Wallingford Castle.

About 1080 William I gave Préaux Abbey (Lisieux, Normandy) an Estate in Watlington assessed at 5 hides, which had belonged to 2 English Freemen, Aelfhelm and Wulfric.  Préaux Abbey was returned as Lord in 1086.  In a Lawsuit of 1221 this estate, then said to be 4 hides, was described as Watcombe Manor.  The Abbey was still Overlord of the Estate in 1361 and probably retained Rights over it until the Dissolution of Alien Priories by Henry V.  During the French Wars of the 14thC the Abbey’s Property was constantly in the King’s Hands and it seems to have sold early in Edward III’s Reign all real interest in the Estate to its under-Tenant, John de Stonor, and to have retained only a nominal Overlordship.

The earliest known under-Tenants seem to have been members of a Buckinghamshire Family from Hambleden (Bucks): a Sir William of Hambleden was in possession in 1184, Jordan of Hambleden in 1192, and Osbert of Hambleden in 1217.  Osbert of ‘Cocham‘ (? Cookham, Berks), who held the Manor in 1221, was probably the same man as Osbert of Hambleden.  By 1238 a William of Watcombe was Tenant: he agreed to pay an increased Rent of £8 and to find Lodging for the Abbot, his Prior, or his Steward when they came to the Manor.  He undertook to provide this entertainment 3 or 4 times annually and also to find food for 8 horses at his own cost. The Abbot had before received a Rent of 11 marks (£7 6. 8d.) and Hospitality and had the right to Tallage William’s men each year, a burden which was remitted in the new Agreement.  In 1252 the Tenant was William de la Ho,  who seems to have taken his name from Howe Hamlet.  He may have been a son of William of Watcombe and a member of the original Hambleden Family, since he owned land in both Hambleden & Watcombe.  He settled the Property in 1252 on his son William on his marriage to Maud, daughter of Robert de Swynebrook, and it is no doubt this son who was holding Préaux Abbey’s Manor in 1279.  In 1291 the Abbey was receiving the same rent of £8, and the obligation to entertain the Officers of the Abbey was valued at £1.

Sir John Stonor, the notable Judge, evidently purchased the Tenancy of this Manor in 1313 for 10 Marks from 2 sisters, Alice and Maud, wife of William of the Chamber, who were perhaps the daughters of William and Maud de la Ho.  In 1315 Sir John was Granted Free Warren in his Demesne lands in Watcombe.  Later he settled the Manor on himself and his wife, and in 1346 he seems to have bought the Manor from the Overlord, Préaux Abbey, for he was released from payment of the old Rent and henceforth paid a nominal Rent of 2s.  On his death in 1354 he held Watcombe Manor of the Abbot of Préaux for 2s a year, as well as a Messuage & Carucate of Watlington Manor for 10s a year.  The Black Prince’s steward tried to treat Watcombe as part of Wallingford Honour, but Sir John (II) Stonor, the Judge’s son, successfully maintained his claim that it was held of Préaux at Fee Farm.  When Stonor died in 1361 he held a Messuage and 80 acres of Préaux Abbey for 2s yearly with 5 acres of meadow, a ruined Horse-mill, pasture at Watcombe and in Watlington for 2 horses, 6 oxen, & 100 sheep, 62s Rent of Free Tenants, and Pleas of Court worth 2s yearly.  Like other Stonor Property, Watcombe Manor was held in custody during the minority of the heir, Edmund Stonor, by Isabella, the King’s daughter, but in 1363, although still a Minor, Edmund was allowed to hold it and the other Manors at Farm.  On Sir Edmund Stonor’s death in 1382 the heir was another Minor and Sir Robert Belknap had his custody and held Courts for both Watcombe & Watlington Lands.  Watcombe was not mentioned among the Properties held on the death of Sir John Stonor in 1390,  nor among those of his brother Sir Ralph Stonor in 1394. Sir Ralph, however, had made a Settlement of it in 1393,  and so Watcombe may have been included in ‘Hoo’ Manor, another Stonor Property in Watlington, and like ‘Hoo’ have been held by his Widow Joan and her 2nd husband Edmund Hampden, who received Rents from ‘Hoo‘ & Watcombe from 1396 to about 1407.  Watcombe must then have reverted to the Stonors, for in 1417 Thomas Stonor’s Receiver accounted for similar Rents and for a Clerical Tenth paid to the King for ‘La Hoo’, which must, in fact, have been for Préaux Abbey’s Property in Watcombe.  Watcombe or Watcombe Fee Manor, as it was sometimes called, followed the Descent of Stonor Manor until the Execution of Sir Adrian Fortescue in 1539, when it Descended to his daughter Margaret, wife of Thomas, Lord Wentworth (d. 1551), as her share of her mother’s Inheritance.  Her son Thomas, Lord Wentworth (d. 1584), sold the Manor in 1562 to Ambrose Dormer and his kinsman John Bolney, and they to a Robert Tyrrel, Gentleman, in the same year.  By 1577 the Anthony Molyns, who was buried in Watlington Church in 1582, was Lord.  His heirs were his 2 daughters, Anne, wife of John Simeon, Lord of Brightwell Baldwin in 1600, and Margaret, wife of Martin Tichburne, but in 1608 only half of Watcombe Manor was held by them; the other half belonged to Sir Michael Molyns, the brother of Anthony Molyns and Lord of Chislehampton, Clifton Hampden, and of Clapcot (Berks).  Sir Michael died in 1615 in possession of Watcombe Manor; he held of the King ‘of the late Monastery of Préaux in Normandy‘.  His heir Sir Barentine Molyns was succeeded in Watcombe by his own son Sir Michael Molyns, who in 1629 sold the Manor to a William Lucy.  He, in turn, sold it in 1634 to John Eustace of Pyrton.  The Eustaces were prominent Yeoman Farmers in this part of Oxfordshire and they acquired land in the course of the 17thC in several neighbouring Parishes, including Britwell.  By 1650 Watcombe Manor had passed to a Thomas Eustace, who may have been the son of an earlier Thomas Eustace, who had held a Messuage and 32 acres of land in Watlington on his death in 1615.  In 1681 Thomas Eustace, Gentleman, settled Watcombe & Britwell Manors on his son Thomas, when he married Mary Bayley.  The younger Thomas’s line seems to have come to an end with the deaths of another Thomas Eustace and his young wife Mary, both in 1713.  In 1714 the Manor was conveyed to Elizabeth Hill, Widow, and others. She was the sister of Thomas Eustace the younger (fl. 1681), the Widow of John Hill of Tarriers (in Hazlemere, Bucks).  She died in 1715, leaving one surviving son, Thomas Hill.  It was perhaps her grandson, a ‘Mr Hill‘ of Tarriers and a Minor who was said to hold the Manor in 1718.  By 1747 the Site of the Manor of Watcombe Fee was in the possession of Samuel Horne, Esq. (d.1777), a Merchant of London, who also held Ingham Manor in Watlington with which Watcombe subsequently Descended.  The Hornes were a well-established Trading Family in Watlington.  It is not clear whether Samuel Horne retained the Manor in his own hands or whether he gave it to his kinsman Edward Horne, Gentleman, of Watlington, Pyrton & Britwell (d.1765).  Both Edward Horne’s son, John Yardley Horne (d.1789), and his successor Edward Horne (d. c.1814) were certainly in possession of a great deal of Property in Watlington at the end of the 18th century.  Edward Horne was followed by Henry Hulton, who in 1815 and as late as 1832 occurs as Lord of Watcombe and Ingham Manors,  but by 1854 Edward Horne Hulton, evidently a descendant of both Families, was Lord of Watcombe and Ingham Manors, as well as of Britwell.  The latter had been succeeded by 1864 by the Rev William P Hulton, who died in 1885, and the Manors passed to his Widow Philippa C H Hulton.  She put the Estate up for sale in 1897 and again, together with a Henry Horne Hulton, in 1911.  In 1915 and 1920 Ivan Jackson, Esq, later Major Jackson, was Lord, and in 1939 Milton Harris, Esq.

Warmscombe is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey of 1086, but it is likely that the Township or part of it was included in the Estate in South Weston held by Robert d’Oilly under the Earl of Chester.  A part of it may also have been represented by the 1-hide holding held by Robert d’Oilly of the Fief of William Fitz Osbern in Watcombe in Watlington, for at a later date ‘Watcombe Fee‘ seems to have included land in Warmscombe.  In the Survey of 1279 Warmscombe Hamlet is said to form part of a Fee with South Weston and Wheatfield which was held by the Plescys, Lords of the Barony of D’Oilly, under the Earl of Arundel’s Honour of Coventry. Warmscombe continued to be returned as part of the Fee in later returns and like South Weston was said to be held by Fulk de Rycote in 1348, and by Sir Walter Beauchamp in 1428.  There is no later reference to its Overlordship save in 1710 when Thomas Stonor paid 2s to the Crown for Warmscombe Manor.

The under-Tenants of Warmscombe were the Fitzwyths, who held also at Ardley & South Weston.  In 1279 Simon Fitzwyth, brother of John Fitzwyth, Lord of South Weston, was holding Warmscombe under him.  Simon had been in possession by 1273 at least; he held for a ⅓-Fee and Suit at Pyrton Hundred Court.  In 1280 he had a Grant of Free Warren in his Demesne lands there.  It is likely that he had no male heir and that Warmscombe passed to a daughter, for in 1315 when John Stonor obtained a Quarter of the Manor this Quarter was held by a Joan de Saleye of the Inheritance of Isolda, wife of William son of Walter de Cornwalle, and of Joan, wife of Roger de Percy.  In the same year, Stonor received Free Warren in his Demesne lands there and he must eventually have obtained the whole Manor, for in 1336 he made a Settlement of Warmscombe and other Stonor Manors.  Thereafter it followed the Descent of the rest of the Stonor Property and is still part of the Estate.

Hoo Manor, which was 1st mentioned in 1390,  seems to have been one of the Estates in Howe Hamlet which was held of the Crown Manor in Watlington, and its claim to be a Manor is doubtful.  Robert de Bealknap, the Guardian of John Stonor, Lord of Watcombe Manor, was said in 1389 to have held ‘Hoo Manor‘ of the Lord of Watlington at a yearly rent of 19s 11d.   Sir Ralph Stonor was also returned as holding it in 1394;  his Widow Joan was granted it as Dower in 1395 and took it to her 2nd husband Edmund Hampden, who received Rents from Hoo and Watcombe from 1396 to about 1407.  There is no further mention of ‘Hoo Manor‘ in the 15thC and it must have reverted to the Stonors and Descended with Watcombe Manor.  The Stonors continued to hold rents in Howe until their Watlington Property passed to Sir Adrian Fortescue and his heirs the WentworthsThomas Lord Wentworth (d.1584) held Howe Farm (300a) of the Crown Manor at the end of the 16th century; it is probable that this was the Property previously called ‘Hoo Manor‘. He evidently sold it, either to the Molyns Family 1st or to their relatives the Simeons, for in 1611 Sir George Simeon, son of Anne Molyns and John Simeon, Lord of Brightwell Baldwin and of Minigrove Manors, sold ‘the Howe‘ to his brother, later Sir John Simeon.   Sir John was returned as the Crown’s Tenant of the Howe Farm (300a) in about 1616.  It is not clear what happened to the land when the Crown Manor was split up,  but Sir John must have bought some of Howe Farm, for in 1649 he sold 60 acres of it to John Toovey, probably the son of the John Toovey who had held land in the Howe in 1633.  In 1676 John Toovey sold his Howe Property for £950 to a John Toovey of Swyncombe, son of Sampson Toovey of Greenfield.  This John Toovey held the Property until his death about 1720,  when his sons John & William inherited 122 acres.  In 1761 the last John Toovey of the Howe died and half of his property came to John Hine, who had eloped with Toovey’s daughter Katherine.

In 1086 Robert d’Oilly held 2½ hides in Adingeham, which had belonged to William Fitz Osbern’s Fief, then in the King’s hands.  This Estate appears to represent the later Ingham Manor.  There is no record of Ingham as a separate Manor during the Middle Ages, but as the rest of Robert d’Oilly’s land in Watlington passed to the Earl of Cornwall it was probably included among the Earl’s holdings in 1279.  The 1st reference that has been found to the Manor occurs in Rawlinson’s account of the Parish made in c. 1718, when he said that it had been Reserved out of the Crown Manor, which had been sold to the Parishioners in the 17thC, and had descended from a Mr Knight to the Yardleys.  It was then held by a Mrs Yardley and a Mr Prince of Hampshire; by 1747 Samuel Horne, Lord of Watcombe Manor and it would seem the 2nd husband of Mrs Yardley, was in possession.  Thereafter the 2 Manors followed the same Descent.

In 1600 John Simeon obtained Minigrove Manor in Bix, which included at his death in 1615 a capital messuage and 3 cottages and land in Greenfield, later part of Lower Greenfield Farm.  This Property was described on an Estate Map of 1638 as Greenfield Manor, although at other times it was regarded as part of Minigrove Manor.  The Property was held by his son Sir George Simeon (d.1664) and was settled on Sir George’s 2nd wife Margaret Molyneux, who was in possession until about 1670.  By 1678 their son, James Simeon, later Sir James Simeon (d.1707) of Aston (Staffs), held the Property.  It passed to his son Sir Edward Simeon, who died unmarried in 1768, leaving his Property to Thomas Weld, the son of his sister Margaret.  Weld, who is said to have assumed the name of Simeon, must have died very soon after, for by 1771 his nephew and heir Thomas Weld of Lulworth seems to have been in possession of other of his Oxfordshire Property.  The Greenfield Farm, apart from the Woods, was sold in 1797 to the Tenant, Edward Goodchild (d. 1827).  His son Josiah Goodchild was still in possession in 1834.  By 1881 it was part of the Estate of Thomas Taylor of Aston Rowant and was put up for sale in 1889.

Lesser Estates
In 1086 an Estate assessed at 2 hides in Watcombe was held by a certain Geoffrey as a Tenant of Miles Crispin.  Geoffrey was also the Tenant of a Marsh Baldon Manor which descended together with his Watcombe Estate. They were held as 1 Knight’s Fee under Wallingford Honour.  From the last Quarter of the 12thC until the death of Robert (V) de la Mare in 1382 the Watcombe Property remained in the possession of the De la Mare Family, the Lords of Marsh Baldon.  In 1279, when it was held of Robert (III) de la Mare, it was said to consist of 8 Virgates.  It evidently remained attached to Marsh Baldon Manor until the 17thC, for its connection with Lord Windsor and later with the Families of Pope, Danvers and Sadler, who successively acquired Marsh Baldon, can be traced.  By the 18thC the connection seems to have ended.  The Tenants of the De la Mare Property, or a part of it, in the 2nd half of the 13thC were Robert de Swynebrook and his wife Maud.  In 1275 Maud gave ⅓-hide of her late husband’s land to Hugh Frelondand in 1279 he was returned as holding an 8-Virgate Estate under the De la Mares.  The Descent of the Family is not clear: a Reginald and a Hugh Frelond of Watcombe, perhaps a younger Hugh, were parties to Watcombe Grants around 1280 and in the early 14thCin 1327 Maud Frelond paid the highest assessment in Watcombe; in 1328–9 John Frelond was enfeoffed by Walter son of John of Syresfield with a Messuage and 120 acres at Syresfield and elsewhere;  and in 1331 John Frelond and his heirs were granted Free Warren in their Demesne lands of Watlington & Crendon (Bucks).  This John may have been the same as John Frelond who was frequently on commissions in Oxfordshire and neighbouring Counties in the mid-14thC and was a Member of Parliament for Oxfordshire in 1341, but nothing further is known of his Tenure of this Watcombe Estate.  In 1393 a Tenement called ‘Frelonds’ was in the hands of Thomas Frankelyn, Glazier.  He released the Property, which extended into Britwell Salome, Swyn&combe, and Brightwell Baldwin, to Thomas Barentine, and in the same year Barentine Granted it to a William Beke and others.  As Barentine was closely connected with the Chaucers, it is not improbable that the Chaucers later acquired this Property and that Dame Alice Farm (140a), the Watcombe part of the Baldon Fee, took its name from Alice, Duchess of Suffolk (d.1475), daughter of Thomas Chaucer.

Further details of this Baldon Holding occur in a Court Roll of 1507: the heirs of John Yardley then held of Lord Windsor lands in Britwell Salome and John Perytts of Watlington held lands, ‘once Dame Alice of Baldington‘.  In 1608 Richard Yardley claimed to hold ‘Dame Alice Manor‘ of the Crown Manor of Watlington, and about 1613 his heirs were said to hold above 100 acres called Damealls, next to Dame Alice land, and Ampthills in the fields of Watlington and Britwell Salome.  Part or all of this Property was in the hands 1st of the Tooveys of Howe and later of the Hornes of Watcombe Manor in the late 17thC and in the 18thC.

OS Map 1918 Sth Oxon L.3 (Watlington Park)
A Park, the later Watlington Park, was made before 1272 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. In 1276 it was said that the Freemen of the area (de patria) used to have Free Hunting there and that some had had Free Common; in 1279 that Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, had 40 acres of Wood emparked by unknown Warrant.  The Park was Hedged: 207 perches of hedging were made in 1296–7 and in 1392 it was enlarged by 20 acres.  The Earl’s Accounts in 1278, 1286 1297 recorded sales of Pasture in the Park and Receipts from Pannage of his Tenants’ pigs.


Rear Elevation

Country House. Built c.1755 for John Tilson. English bond brick; hipped Welsh slate roof; internal brick stacks. Double-depth Plan. 2-Storeys & Attic; 5-window Range. Central 3-Bay Pedimented block, with Lunette in Tympanum. Stone Doric Porch with triglyph frieze; late 19thC double-leaf doors. Gauged red brick flat arches over sashes. Ashlar string course; modillioned eaves cornice. 4-roof Dormers. Similar rear elevation and right side wall has canted Bay.

The Park seems to have followed the Descent of the Principal Manor (i.e. the Crown manor) in the Middle Ages, and Princess Elizabeth received it with Watlington Manor in 1551; in 1613 James I granted some London Merchants a 99-year Lease of both; and the Park and Coney Warren were included in a sale of the Reversion of the Manor by Charles I in 1629.  Both Lease and Reversion were bought by Edmund Symeon of Pyrton and Thomas Adeane of Chalgrove, who sold parts to recoup themselves.  In 1632 William Stonor bought the Park with the Fair, Market, and Tolls of Stallage.  It remained with the Stonors, save for the Period when it was Sequestrated for the Recusancy of William Stonor, until 1753 when it was sold with the Manor-House for £9,500 to John Tilson, the son of the Under-Secretary of State.  He died before 1785 and his Widow held the Park until about 1794, but his heir was John Henry Tilson, probably his son (d.1837).  The Estate came to Thomas F Shaen Carter by his marriage to Tilson’s daughter & heir, Maria Tilson, and he was said to be living there in 1854 He died in 1875 and in 1876 the Estate was sold to J F Symons-Jeune, who sold in 1910 to Arthur Renshaw In 1921 the Widowed Lady Winifred Renshaw sold the Estate to the 3rd Viscount Esher, who still owned it in 1960 when Watlington Park was the residence of his son Major the Hon Lionel G B Brett.

Interior: Hall has marble floor and fireplace, & architectural trompe l’oeil decoration by Philip Tilden, 1921. Panelled doors, some set in bolection-moulded architraves. Panelled rooms to left have finely carved mid-18thC fireplaces & plaster cornices. Drawing Room to right has fine marble Fireplace; modillioned cornice on torus moulding; rococo plasterwork on ceiling wreathed in foliage, with swans in end panels; Ionic columns at both ends of the room. Open well Staircase with twisted balusters & ramped handrails. 1st-Floor has panelled rooms with plaster cornices, similar doors; early 19thC marble fireplaces except for 18thC cast-iron grate to right. Dog-leg Service stairs with turned balusters to rear left. Watlington Park was sold to John Tilson, son of the Under-Secretary of State, by the Stonors in 1753.

When the Park was in the King’s or Black Prince’s own hands it was normally given into the charge of a Keeper, often as a ‘reward for good service‘. In 1337 Robert le Parker was given custody of the Park and Warren and received a Fee of a Robe, 1 mark, and a quarter of corn every 10 weeks out of the issue of the Manor.  Richard de Bretford, who was Granted it in 1361, received wages of 2d a day, and a similar Grant ‘for good service‘ was made later in the same year to Robert de Wydyngton.  Grants were made to Robert Goscombe in 1438; to Geoffrey Kidwelly, King’s Servant and Receiver of Wallingford Honour, in 1461; to Philip Laton, Bailiff of Watlington, in 1463; to John Whitton, Yeoman of the Crown, in 1489, and to Roger Whitton in 1519.  In 1536 Edmund Stonor, Yeoman of the Guard obtained a Lease of the Herbage & Coneys of the Park and of the Pasture north of the Town called the Moor, together with dues from the Town after the end of Whitton’s 21-year Lease.  In 1608 Robert le Gris petitioned James I for a Lease in Reversion of the Park with certain Coppices as Leased by Queen Elizabeth to John Cade and in 1610 Sir Francis Stonor begged that a Lease of the Woods in the Park might be Granted.  A Survey of the Crown Manor made about 1616 shows that Sir Barentine Molyns was then Leasing the Park (220 acres) for £3 68d a year.

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