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Lillingstone Lovell formed a detached portion of Oxfordshire in 1086, probably as the result of a dependency upon the important royal manor of Kirtlington. Kirtlington lies about 8½ miles north of Oxford and approximately 20 miles south-west of Lillingstone Lovell; it was the hundredal manor of Ploughley Hundred and the centre of a large ‘multiple estate’ before the Norman Conquest. Lillingstone Lovell may have been retained by the king at Kirtlington during the widespread fragmentation of multiple estates in the late Saxon period because of its proximity to areas of woodland and hunting. However, evidence of an association between Lillingstone Lovell and Kirtlington, beyond their common attachment to Ploughley Hundred, is hard to find. Thus, there was no enduring ecclesiastical connection, as there was, for instance, between Silverstone and Whittlebury and the royal estate centre of Greens Norton. Nor, apparently, do the early modern court rolls of Kirtlington suggest the existence of any residual obligations owed by the inhabitants of Lillingstone Lovell. The parish was finally transferred to Buckinghamshire in 1844.
A further boundary
change was required later in the 19th century to eliminate a second
ancient anomaly. Following the contraction of Whittlewood Forest at
the end of the 13th century, the only part of the forest to remain
outside Northamptonshire lay in the far north-east of Lillingstone
Lovell, as described in the perambulation of 1300 and depicted on maps
of c.1608 and 1787. This portion of the parish, however, formed
part of a larger detached territory belonging to Lillingstone Dayrell.
The creation of this territory presumably occurred before the Norman
Conquest, at the time of the division of the Lillingstones into two
manors of five hides each. In the 13th century, Lillingstone Lovell
was called Great (Magna) Lillingstone, in distinction from
Little (Parva) Lillingstone, suggesting that it held some sort
of primacy over its western neighbour, although the precise nature of
this ascendancy has not yet been determined.
The two parishes are
separated by a stream which runs the entire length of Lillingstone
Lovell’s western boundary, and which flows from the medieval Alienwoodbrook
(the county boundary separating Lillingstone Dayrell and Whittlebury).
Towards the south the parish borders upon Leckhampstead, in the east
upon the Northamptonshire parishes of Wicken and Deanshanger, and in
the north upon the Northamptonshire parish of Whittlebury. In the far
north-eastern corner of the parish, the boundary intersects with those
of three other parishes – Whittlebury, Potterspury, and Deanshanger
– at a point known in the Middle Ages as Westmededyk, which
formed the south-western corner of Wakefield Lawn.
In 1086 there were
two manors of Lillingstone Lovell, each of 2½ hides. One was held by
Benzelinus of the king, and the other by Richard Engaine, also of the
king. In 1279 the Benzelinus holding was in the possession of Payn de
Chaceporc, whose tenant there was Margaret Dansey. Margaret’s estate
consisted of 13 half-virgate tenements, 10 of them held in villeinage,
and nine cotlands, five held freely and four in villeinage. A mill and
three acres were also held of Margaret Dansey for a rent of 13s.
During the 14th century this estate was divided into two separate
manors, Overend and Netherend. The Domesday holding of Richard Engaine
became divided towards the end of the 12th century. In 1279 one half
was held by James Barber of the king, and consisted of two half-virgate
tenements, held freely, and six cotlands. The other half was held by
John de Olney of William de Stapleton, and consisted of six half-virgate
tenements, one holding of 12 acres, and two holdings of 10 acres. A
messuage was held by Richard le Chastilun jointly of Margaret, James
An earlier survey, of
1255, reveals that Thomas Barber and Walter de Olney were, in addition
to their 1¼ hides, also in possession of wood and assart, which in
Walter’s case amounted to 14 acres. Margaret Dansey, then known as
Clifford, also held wood and assart; however, its size was unknown.
Margaret’s estate was previously in the possession of Hugh de St
Martin, who died in about 1247. At this time the manor was valued at
£10 9½d., and consisted of two carucates in demesne, five
virgates in villeinage, and the rents of an unspecified number of free
men and cottars.
In 1294, John de
Monte Alto died holding an estate in Lillingstone Lovell which
consisted of 100 acres of arable, two acres of meadow, a several
pasture, 21s. 1d. in rents from free tenants, and four
villeins each holding a quarter-virgate, all held of the
king-in-chief. This was the estate which James Barber held in 1279. In
addition, John held 10 acres of arable of Richard Grusset and 3½
acres of John de Olney, together with 8s. in rents. In 1361,
Thomas de Lillingstone died holding an estate in Lillingstone Lovell
which consisted of a messuage, a windmill, a carucate of land
measuring 120 acres, and 20s. in rents, all held of the
king-in-chief. He also held two half-virgate tenements, the rents and
services from which were each worth 3s. 1d. a year.
Again, this must represent the estate which James Barber held in 1279
and which John de Monte Alto held in 1294. In addition, Thomas held a
messuage and carucate of land of Robert de Stapleton, presumably the
estate which belonged to John de Olney in 1279.
Luffield Priory held
half a virgate of Margaret Dansey in 1279, which was sub-let to
Richard Grusset. This was presumably the half-virgate granted to the
priory in alms by Hugh de St Martin in c.1220-5, together with
three acres to augment it, in lieu of the tithe of the bread of his
house which his ancestors gave them. Hugh de St Martin also granted to
Luffield the chapel of St John the Baptist which lay within his court
at Lillingstone. The priory held another half-virgate in 1279, of John
de Olney, which was sub-let to Robert Warin. This was probably the
half-virgate which Robert Boban granted to the priory in alms in c.1220-5
which he had bought from William son of Reginald de Grendon.
documents provide important clues about the field system of
Lillingstone Lovell. In c.1240-60 Robert Warin quitclaimed to
the priory his right in half an acre in the west field of Lillingstone
which he held of them for his life and which lay between the land of
John Husel and that of Richard son of William. In 1366 the prior and
convent leased one acre in the north field of Lillingstone Dansey, on
the furlong of Hemyngh, to Walter Taillor and his wife and daughter.
This may be identical with the acre in the field of Great Lillingstone,
which lay on Heyneche, which Walter de Olney granted to the priory in c.1250-60.
Finally, a terrier of 1288-9 refers not only to a west field and a
north field but also to an east field, revealing that a three-field
system was in operation at Lillingstone Lovell in the 13th century.
Some further clues
about the topography of Lillingstone Lovell at the beginning of the
14th century are provided by the permabulation of the Oxfordshire
portion of Whittlewood Forest, conducted in 1300. The perambulation
begins at the Alienwoodbrook, at the point where the boundaries
of the three counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and
Northamptonshire meet. The perambulation then proceeds clockwise
around the parish, including within the forest everything on the left
and excluding everything on the right. From the Alienwoodbrook,
the boundary of the forest follows the county boundary to Wytleburyrode,
then to le Cokschuteweye (a celebrated place for netting
woodcocks), then to the quickhedge between the wood and the field at le
Brode of the Lesewe, then along the quickhedge to the ditch at le
Stertestile, then descending between the field of Heybarne and the
field of Lillingstone to le Hertstrete at the headland above Throkelemede,
then along le Hertstrete to the boundary between the field of
Lillingstone and Heybarne, then ascending to Wakerfeldrode,
then along the quickhedge to le Blakeputte (otherwise known as
Briary Coppice), then to Hardesleygrene, then to Byrchenegrene
(otherwise known as Sutfield Green), then to Southfelderode,
then to le Thistelgrene, then to Leychehamrode,
then across to Stottesdich, then to Torenhaterhawe, then
to the stream which comes from Alienwoodbrook, and then along
the stream to Magna Lillingstone.
The earliest detailed
map of Lillingstone Lovell to survive is the tithe map of 1839. This
depicts the main area of settlement lying on a north-south axis along
the course of a brook which flows into the stream forming the parish
boundary with Lillingstone Dayrell. The church lay to the west of the
brook, opposite a small green known as Town Close. More cottages and
gardens surrounded the church. In all, the tithe apportionment records
16 separate properties, consisting of buildings, gardens and yards, in
the village. The population in 1801 was 135. A survey of the manor in
1699 reveals a slightly larger number of homesteads and yards,
although the lack of a plan prevents the sure identification of their
location in the village. The Compton Census of 1676 records a
church-going population of 60 conformists and four non-conformists.
To the south of the
village lay Lillingstone Hall, in the grounds of which (Hall Close)
the remains of fishponds are still visible today. Thomas Rands held
the ‘mansion house, yards, ponds and gardens’ in 1699. The
present-day Boundary Farm and Lovelwood Farm, in the north of the
parish, both existed in 1839. The present-day Manor House, north of
the village, also existed in 1839. These may have been the successors
to the substantial properties held by John Spencer and John Girding in
1699. Bradley Fields Farm, to the east of the village, was held by Mr
How in 1699. In all, the survey of 1699 lists 29 landholders, of whom
15 held more than 10 acres and eight held more than 50 acres. The
total area surveyed amounted to a little over 1450 acres.
The Lovell family, from whom the parish subsequently took its name, acquired a portion of Margaret Dansey’s estate by marriage in the early 14th century. They appear to have been a cadet branch of the Lovells of Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire and Titchmarsh in Northamptonshire. Unlike their more illustrious relatives, however, they died out in the male line during the 14th century, the memory of their lordship in the parish kept alive by the adoption of their name.