General website directory
The History and Archaeology of Stowe Parish
(i) The parish boundaries
present-day civil parish of Stowe occupies some 3,088 acres in
The parish adjoins Lillingstone Dayrell in the north-east, where the
boundary runs along a lane named ‘Holback’ for about
three-quarters of a mile before branching eastwards to join the lane
which forms part of Stowe’s eastern boundary with Akeley. To the
south-east the parish adjoins Maids Moreton, along a brook which
eventually flows into the River Great Ouse at Buckingham. To the south
the parish borders upon Radclive-cum-Chackmoor, again partly along a
tributary of the Ouse, and to the south-west Stowe shares a border
with Water Stratford. In the west the parish adjoins Shalstone and in
the north-west Biddlesden, part of which was formerly a detached
portion of the parish of Westbury.
No evidence has been found to suggest that these were not the
boundaries of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Stowe.
Geology and topography
parish rises gradually from between 102m OD along the southern
boundary to c.150m OD close
to Stowe Wood in the extreme north. The parish is cut by a number of valleys formed by the river
Alder and its tributaries running roughly north to south to drain
eventually into the Great Ouse. Published geological sheets for Stowe only exist above northing
The parish is dominated by Boulder Clay with discrete outcrops
of Glacial sands and gravels away from the stream courses. In the small valleys of the Alder and its tributaries exposed
deposits of Clay Head can be found. One outcrop of poor quality
limestone appears close to the Oxford gates on the southern side of
Stowe gardens (Jessop pers. comm.). Since all settlement lies within the southern half of the
parish, in areas not covered by the map, it is difficult to assess the
relationship between geology and habitation sites. Work in the Elysian Fields, east of the house, in the area
thought to be occupied by Stowe village, suggests, however, that the
settlement was placed on Boulder Clay and Glacial Sand and Gravel. Similarly, a
mid-19th-century gravel pit close to Lamport
village suggests that this settlement too is located on these two
types of geology. In the
south-eastern part of Boycott, fieldnames also suggest gravel
deposits. Elsewhere, parts of the medieval field systems can be shown to
have spread onto the Boulder Clays and it is likely most extensive
areas of woodland were confined to the heavier soils in the north-east
quarter of the parish with isolated stands of trees in the southern
and western parts of the parish.
Buckinghamshire Sites and Monuments Record contains 99 entries for the
parish. Half of these
entries relate to the house, now school, at Stowe and the surrounding
18th-century landscape gardens. The National Trust, the current owners of Stowe gardens,
maintains its own Sites and Monuments Record specifically for the
estate, and its entries are fed to the county record. Inevitable time delays in the transfer of information mean that
more recent discoveries are currently only recorded on one or other
record and both need to be used to provide the fullest picture.
Table 1: Numeric breakdown of entries in Buckinghamshire Sites and Monuments Record by type
Ridge and furrow evidence from aerial photographs has been transcribed by the county archaeological service onto six-inch OS maps. This is largely derived from RAF photographs taken immediately after the second world war. The record is incomplete, and additional information has been added to it from more recent aerial reconnaissance. Black and white obliques and colour verticals of the whole of the historical estate at Stowe have been made available to the project.
archaeological excavation, associated with the reconstruction of the
18th-century gardens, has also occasionally produced information
relating to earlier phases of the history of the parish. Three of these reports, relating to work on the western side of
the Elysian Fields, in the vicinity of Stowe village, have been made
available to the project. An earthwork survey of the parkland surrounding the gardens,
being undertaken by the Royal Commission (now English Heritage) is
within six working days of completion (Jessop pers. comm.). Access to this survey will greatly help our reconstruction of
Buckinghamshire Sites and Monuments Record contains no entries
relating to prehistoric activity in the parish. That there is evidence, which has not been previously recorded,
can be shown from fieldwalking results undertaken by the Whittlewood
Project. Parts of two
fields, to the north of Stowe school (ST1; SP 678 387) and south of
Lamport (ST2; SP 682 371) were systematically surveyed. ST1 produced five worked flakes and ST2 produced two. Local farmers are also known to have identified and collected
worked flints (Tomkins pers. comm.). Further fieldwork should produce
Alchester-Towcester Roman road passes through the parish (Margary
The road enters the parish 300m west-south-west of Boycott Farm (SP
663 359), and follows a single alignment north-east for 3km.
At this point, 500m south-west of Wolfe’s Obelisk (SP 678
384), the road turns to a more northern alignment before leaving the
parish at SP 683 408.
a thin corridor either side of this road, several chance finds and
more substantial features of Roman date have been discovered. Of the former, a Denarius of Severus Alexander was found near
Oxford Bridge (SP 666 365)
and a Roman-British urn was unearthed close to the school (SP 675
375). Of the latter, the most important is a pottery kiln with an
adjacent pit from which 2 pieces of tegula and Roman brick and tile
were recovered (SP 68070 38429). The kiln was 1m in length, 0.80m wide, with a flat floor and
sloping sides. Large
pieces of kiln bar survived within the kiln. The associated pottery was of a soft groggy fabric, orange-grey
in colour showing signs of partial firing. Simple everted rims and footrings were common. A 1st-century date has been suggested for this kiln. To the south of the kiln unglazed brownish pottery was reported
during drainage work and may represent more extensive Roman settlement
north of the formal gardens. North of Boycott Farm, again beside the
Roman road, two Roman ditches, the first 2.5m wide and aligned
north-south, and the other 7-8m wide, aligned east-west, have been
excavated (SP 6650 3655).
Large amounts of pottery from the ditch fills have been dated
to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
second road alignment has been suggested by the Viatores.
This enters the parish at Dance Farm (SP 685 361) before following the
parish boundary north-north-west to New Inn Farm. The alignment then shifts a little to the west, allowing the
road to run under the western wing of the house, before crossing the
Alchester-Towcester road and descending to Home Farm (SP 671 378). Here the road adopts a third alignment, passing south of the
current settlement at Dadford and passing along the parish boundary
towards Woodgreen Farm (SP 649 685). Various topographic features suggest these alignments: the
Viatores report the identification of a terrace way immediately north
of New Inn Farm as the road enters the Stowe estate; south-west of
Dadford the route is coincident with a bridleway before running along
the parish boundary. Despite
this, the lack of
physical evidence means that the line of this road must remain
suspect. Indeed, across
the Stowe estate, no below ground evidence, or details from aerial
photographs, can be offered to prove the route. The Viatores account includes a report that ‘about twenty
years ago an ancient urn was found; it was supposed to be Roman, but
it and its contents quickly crumbled into dust’. This discovery was made in a gravel pit at New Inn Farm. Human
remains are also known to have been discovered there by the landowner,
but have not been reported formally (Tomkins pers. comm.). There is the possibility, therefore, that this is the location
of a cemetery which contains both inhumation and cremation burials.
from these two Roman roads, remarkably little is known about the
arrangement of both settlement and landuse in the rest of the parish. The evidence is restricted to
17 sherds of
Romano-British pottery recovered during fieldwalking undertaken by the
Whittlewood Project. Seven
sherds were found in ST1 and ten in ST2. In conclusion, therefore, the limited evidence suggests a
degree of industrial activity associated with pottery manufacture, and
the possibility of an associated settlement. The existence of a possible cemetery at New Inn Farm might
suggest a sizable population associated with settlements which remain
to be identified.
The settlement at Boycott
the Middle Ages the parish of Stowe contained four separate
settlements: Stowe, Dadford, Lamport, and Boycott. Boycott was in fact
a detached portion of Oxfordshire until 1844, perhaps as the result of
a dependency upon the important royal manor of Kirtlington. Both
manors were already attached to the hundred of Ploughley in 1086.
Domesday Book records that Reinbald held one hide in Boycott of the
king, land which had formerly been held freely by Blachemann. With a
single plough in lordship (out of a possible three) and a recorded
population of one villein, it is likely that Reinbald’s holding
consisted of little more than an individual farmstead.
However, it must be doubted whether he ever resided there. This was
‘Reinbald the Priest’, as he was described in a later document,
or ‘Reinbald the Chancellor’, one of Edward the Confessor’s
favoured clerks, the ‘first great pluralist’, who was dean of
Cirencester, the Augustinian abbey of which received Boycott in 1117.
Attached to the holding was woodland measuring four furlongs long and
two furlongs wide, the equivalent of 80 acres if taken literally, or
using Rackham’s multiplier (0.7), 56 acres.
The value of the manor had halved since the Conquest, from 40s.
boundaries of Boycott may be ascertained from the first edition
one-inch Ordnance Survey map of 1833.
This shows the Oxfordshire outlier occupying the extreme south-west of
Stowe parish, bordering upon the parish of Radclive-cum-Chackmoor in
the south-east, the parish of Water Stratford in the west, and bounded
in the east by a tributary of the Ouse. The course of this stream was
straightened during the years between 1833 and 1879-80, when the
survey for the first edition six-inch Ordnance Survey map was
conducted. The northern boundary of Boycott appears to have passed
through Farfield, a field depicted on the tithe map of 1845.
The area of Boycott was c.271
acres. Boycott is the only one of the four settlements within the
parish of Stowe for which the (medieval) boundaries can be securely
is possible that these boundaries, depicted in 1833, were described in
1300 when ‘the vill of Boycott with its fields, woods and
appurtenances in the possession of the abbot of Biddlesden [was]
disafforested’, according to a perambulation of the Oxfordshire
portion of Whittlewood Forest. The bounds of the royal forest began at
Buggerode beside Stowehach’ between the wood of the abbot of Oseney and the wood of
Boycott. They then proceeded to Foulmere,
then to Blakeputtes Slade,
then to Holeweye, and then
along the quickhedge back to Stowehacch.
If this boundary clause can indeed be shown to correspond with the
boundaries of Boycott in 1833, it will greatly assist the
identification of some key topographical features in the medieval
landscape of Stowe parish. This in turn will help to locate the
boundaries of other pieces of land for which we have descriptions
among the charters of the ecclesiastical landholders which dominated
the parish in the later Middle Ages.
the boundary clause of 1300 suggests that the ‘wood of Boycott’
– was this the same as the woodland described in Domesday Book? –
lay within the bounds of the vill. If this was the case, then the
origins of the settlement at Boycott, which was undoubtedly small in
1086, may well lie in a licence to assart, granted perhaps by the king
as holder of the manor of Kirtlington to which Boycott was probably
attached. This would certainly make sense of the fact that the manor
was held freely by Blachemann before the Norman Conquest. The creation
of a separate farm carved out of the woodland was usually undertaken
by a free tenant. It would also be consistent with the place-name
evidence. The element cote
often denotes a secondary settlement, to which the Old English
personal name Boia was prefixed.
single hide at Boycott, held by Blachemann and later by Reinbald,
formed part of the original endowment of Cirencester Abbey, founded by
Henry I in 1117.
Before 1279 Boycott was alienated to Biddlesden Abbey, which held
three carucates in demesne there, a mill, and wood four furlongs long
and two furlongs wide, at the time of the Hundred Rolls inquiry. In
addition, the abbey held 5½ virgates in villeinage, sub-let in
unequal parcels to 12 tenants, and six cottages. Another tenant held a
single acre of land for an annual rent of 12d.
The abbey of Cirencester received £120 from Biddlesden for the manor
and mill of Boycott, which lay near Biddlesden’s grange of Gorhall’, the modern Gorrell Farm.
The deed of transfer is undated but must have occurred between 1265
An undated list of Biddlesden’s tenants at Boycott reveals a total
of 11 men and four women holding 6½ virgates of demesne and 5½
virgates in villeinage. This land appears to have been divided between
two open fields.
survival of ridge and furrow points to the location of the open
fields. This is
concentrated around present-day Boycott Farm, to east and west of the
line of the Roman road, and to north and south of Welsh Lane. The furlongs appear to be
well-organized and large. Interlocking furlongs are not present, rather they are
orientated to drain into the stream forming the northern boundary of
the vill, or into the streams to the east and south. The arrangements of the fields, however, is far from clear, but
it is probable that the division was made east-west rather than
north-south. North of
Welsh Lane Farm, there is no evidence for ridge and furrow. It might be tentatively suggested that this was where the
woodland was located, although the area falls short of the 80 or 56
acres suggested by Domesday Book leading to the possibility that
further areas of woodland were located elsewhere.
village of Boycott has traditionally been located in the vicinity of
Boycott Manor (SP 662 372). This appears incongruous since the manor lies outside the
boundaries marked on the 1833 OS map. There is no evidence from aerial photographs to suggest a more
substantial settlement here. Field
survey, however, might reveal features which do not show from the air. On the contrary, there is evidence around Boycott Farm (SP 664
361), set on a slight prominence. There are areas to the north and west of the farm which are not
covered by ridge and furrow, but which contain disturbed ground
visible from the air. The area extends over the line of the Roman
road. The 1845 tithe map
also shows a small track leading north-north-east from the farm, 200m
east of the Roman road, terminating at the stream. It may be the case that house plots were positioned either side
of the Roman road, with back lanes behind the plots. Several other factors recommend this site: access to the open
fields attested by the ridge and furrow; access to the bridging point
over the stream; proximity to the mill (see infra);
and the economic potential of location on a major communication
it may be that by the end of the 13th century, Boycott had
developed into a small nucleated village, surrounded by its open
fields, with woodland beyond, a watermill, and a recorded population
of between 15 and 20. Further evidence of the level of population is
provided by the lay subsidy returns of the early 14th
century. Thirteen taxpayers were resident at Boycott at the time of
the sixteenth of 1316-17, and a similar number contributed to the
taxes of 1306 and 1327.
At the time of the poll tax of 1377, 24 taxpayers resided at Boycott.
In theory, the poll tax was paid by all lay persons over the age of 14
with the exception of genuine paupers. To reach a figure for the total
population, the number of taxpayers in 1377 is usually doubled, and to
reach a figure for the total population before the outbreak of plague
in 1348, the number is doubled again.
Thus, at Boycott the total population before the Black Death may have
been close to 100.
The mill of Boycott was called Cuttule, according to one charter of Oseney Abbey. In another it was described as ‘small’ (parvum). Located presumably along the stream which ran the length of the manor’s eastern border, it perhaps lay close to Boycott bridge, across which ran the road called Buggilderode. Two alternative locations can be suggested for the mill, both lying within 500m of the bridging point of the Roman road over Boycott Brook. The first is at SP 6666 3640, immediately east of the Roman road close to a dammed pond, later the site of a post-medieval paper mill. This site, however, lies just outside the boundaries of Boycott as they appear on the 1833 OS map and is a more likely contender for the site of Stowe mill. The second site at SP 6700 3580, 500m ESE of Boycott Farm lies on the brook and would be included within the 19th-century bounds. A loop in the stream has been culverted at this point, with earth piled beside. When ploughed, the ground was very stony and much ‘old’ pottery was noted.
still in the possession of Cirencester Abbey, in 1265, the mill was
leased to Richard son of William the miller for £1 4s.
a year. A further 2s. was
payable to Oseney Abbey for two acres pertaining to the mill, and 1s.
was owed in tithes.
At another time, Cirencester leased the mill (and demesne) to William
de Stratford for £5 a year, who in turn sub-let it to Richard de
Radclive. The abbey’s demesne at Boycott was sub-let by William in
parcels: two virgates to Walter de Banbury, half a virgate to William
the miller, half a virgate to the widow Dionysia, and a ferling to
William the forester.
Biddlesden was lord of the manor of Boycott in 1279, another abbey,
that of Oseney, seems to have possessed both land and rights there.
Thus, in 1225 Oseney reached an agreement with Cirencester Abbey
concerning the hay tithe of the manor, whereby the two institutions
agreed to share the prerogative.
During the 1330s the abbey paid a collector of tithes at Boycott 2s.
In 1250 William de Dadford granted to Oseney land in Boycott, Stowe,
and Dadford, and a similar grant was made by Richard de Gardino about
10 years previously.
parish church of Stowe, dedicated to the Assumption of St Mary the
Virgin, today stands isolated within the 18th-century
landscape gardens of Stowe, lying hidden within a small clump of
trees. To the east and south the land falls away (quite steeply in the
east) towards water features; however, it is likely that a stream has
always flowed past the eastern end of the church. To the west lies a
levelled playing field belonging to Stowe School, formerly a par terre,
and to the north the magnificent south façade of Stowe House itself.
is assumed that the medieval village of Stowe once lay clustered
around the church of St Mary, within a small triangle of land formed
by the Roman road, the Hey Wey and Slant road, although little is
known about its size or layout at any point in its history. Even the
date of its final disappearance is unknown. One piece of evidence
cited by the Buckinghamshire historian and antiquarian, Browne Willis,
in 1755 has been widely reproduced to suggest that in 1712 Stowe
village consisted of 32 houses and a population of 180, which rapidly
disappeared over the following years as Lord Cobham proceeded to
remodel the gardens and rebuild the house.
In fact the tax return to which Browne Willis referred encompassed the
whole of Stowe parish and thus the settlements at Dadford and Lamport,
as well as any surviving village at Stowe. In all likelihood, however,
Stowe village was long gone by this time. The depopulation of Stowe
was clearly underway by the middle of the 17th century; one
document records at least seven houses depopulated by Sir Peter Temple
by the time of his death in 1653.
The decline of Stowe may have been a gradual affair, with the rights
of the inhabitants slowly whittled away. Thus, a complaint in 1638
stated that common winter pasture in Stowe and Lamport (Stowe Hevinges
and Lamport Hevinges) was enclosed forty years before, to the
detriment of the inhabitants and their animals.
years before, in 1633, a survey of the Temple estate makes clear that
19 tenants at will resided at Stowe, each of them with a house and
close, meadow, and arable land scattered across three common fields.
The house plots were said to consist of a house, backside, and close
(in one case two closes), which ranged in size from 30 perches to one
acre, three roods and 27 perches (1-3-27). In one case a meadow was
included as well, increasing the tenement’s size to 4-1-17. In total
the house plots occupied an area of 21-1-38. No clue is provided in
the document as to the location of these tenements, either in relation
to the church or to each other. Thus, it is not clear whether these
houses formed a compact settlement centred on the parish church, or
were more widely dispersed over the landscape. In 1607 the site of the
vicarage, measuring one acre one perch and including a walled garden
and orchard, lay between the street on the east, a field on the west,
a close on the north, and the churchyard on the south. The house
itself was of eight bays and two stories, built of stone and half
roofed with tile and half with thatch.
Excavations within the Elysian Fields, designed to identify the location of paths associated with the 18th-century garden plan, have revealed the footings of post-medieval buildings, but no medieval structures have been encountered. One such revealed the ground plan of a large rectangular building, 11.8m x 4.8m, constructed in stone and brick. This building is shown on Bridgeman’s plan of the garden drawn in 1739, and is situated south of the church. This has been interpreted as the vicarage mentioned in a terrier of 1700. Clearly it is not located in the area of the vicarage as described 70 years earlier which lay north of the church and warns of the changing morphology of the village over time. To date, therefore, archaeological intervention within the area of the village has failed to reveal more information of the medieval arrangement of the village. Evidence remains scarce, with only limited finds of medieval building material and pottery (SP 67697 37180) from tree root disturbance and recent collection from flower beds (Jessop pers. comm.).
total, the 19 tenants of Stowe held nearly 300 acres of land in 1633.
Although not named in the survey, the manor’s three open fields were
apparently called Windmill Field, Stockhold Field, and Nether Field.
The manor house of the Temple family, together with its orchard,
gardens and court, at this time occupied a little over 5½ acres,
while the Owlde Parke consisted of about 77 acres.
It is unclear where the three open fields of Stowe lay. Ridge and furrow survives well in the parkland south of the school, sandwiched between the Roman road to the west and the Hey Wey to the east. There is also limited evidence to suggest that the area between Stowe village and Lamport was also laid out to open field, and some documents suggest that this field may have been shared by the two settlements. Certainly, the evidence points to the location of the fields south of the village since there is no ridge and furrow visible north of the school. The area encompassed between Lamport, the southern boundary of the parish, Boycott township and the Roman road would be consistent with the 300 acres held by the tenants of Stowe in 1633, but it is impossible at present to divide this area into its three component fields. That evidence has been lost in the landscape redesign is clear from documentary evidence which suggests that one of Stowe’s fields lay west of the church (or vicarage) where no ridge and furrow survives. That which does survive was organised in long furlongs draining to the major water courses. Interlocking furlongs only occur to the south-east of the village (SP 682 368), possibly resulting from the sharing of this field with Lamport.
The origins of the manor house undoubtedly go back to a time before the purchase of Stowe manor by John Temple in 1590. Indeed, a house appears to have been in existence by 1543, when Thomas Giffard held the lease, presumably from the newly created bishop of Oxford. Earlier, in the 1330s, there was sufficient accommodation at Stowe to house the king’s huntsman, Richard de Foxle, with 21 men for five days. Oseney Abbey’s steward also resided at the manor, where he held the manorial court. A plan of 1680 marks the site of the old house immediately west of the church, with an ‘ould garden’ to the south, abutting Slant Road, and a square walled garden to the west. A geophysical survey on the south lawn of the present house failed to locate the footings of this building although technical difficulties were encountered during the operation (Jessop pers. comm.).
curious document survives on a single-sheet, rubricated manuscript of
music and prayer, scrawled in the lower right-hand corner on one side
of the parchment.
It is written in English and states that the people of the parish of
Stowe gathered together on King Edward the Martyr’s day (18 March)
in 1519 to decide ‘who schulde make the mound[s?] abowt the chyrche
yerd’. There follows a list of eight names, apparently of the oldest
men in the parish, and what appears to be a boundary clause. This
reads roughly as follows: ‘first the abbot of Oseney should make
from the west house to the east stile, from the stile to the first
merestone Stowe, from this to the next merestone the tile house, from
this to the next merestone the farm of Lamport, from the farm to the
stile which stands for a merestone the town of Lamport, from this to
the next merestone Dadford, and the residue to the Barn End
Boycott’. The significance of this document remains, for the time
presence of a sizeable village community at Stowe in the 16th
century is indicated by the surviving tax returns. In both 1524 and
1543 the taxpayers of Stowe were listed separately from those of
Boycott, Dadford and Lamport. In 1524, 32 taxpayers at Stowe
contributed to the subsidy (compared with 18 at Dadford and 16 at
In 1543 the names of 30 taxpayers at Stowe were listed, holding
between £1 and £6 in goods, and contributing a total of £1 10s. 6d.
It is difficult to convert the number of taxpayers into a figure for
the total population of the village. However, it is likely that there
were more than 100 inhabitants at Stowe during this period, a figure
which had probably fallen by the time of the survey of 1633.
Stowe in 1086 and 1279
five hides of the manor of Stowe were held by Robert d’Oilly and
Roger de Ivry of the bishop of Bayeux in 1086. At the time of the
Conquest the manor was said to be waste, and 20 years later the
recorded population was still only three bordars. The value of the
manor had fallen from 60s.
to 40s., and only 1½ ploughs (out of a possible five) were in use.
It is extremely unlikely that a nucleated village existed here in the
11th century. Robert and Roger together founded a college
of secular canons in the church of St George in Oxford Castle. A
confirmation charter of Henry I of c.1130
makes clear that Stowe was an early addition to its endowment. Within
another 20 years the college had been absorbed by Oseney Abbey,
which held both the manor and advowson of Stowe until the Reformation.
1279 the abbey held three hides in Stowe, of which two hides (eight
virgates) were held in villeinage by 13 tenants. A further four
tenants held cottages. The abbey held three virgates and a watermill
in demesne. The remaining virgate was assigned to the church.
The watermill of Stowe was granted to Oseney abbey in c.1200 by Simon de Langeport, together with the surrounding land,
above (superius) as far as
the well of Hauetwelle and below (inferius)
as far as the small mill of Boycott.
This document appears to locate Stowe mill close to Boycott
mill, strengthening the argument that both where located on the same
water course. The two
suggested locations for mills (see supra),
one next to Boycott Bridge, the other east-south-east of Boycott farm
are separated by a distance of only 500m
and would fit the topography well. If this was indeed the location of Stowe mill, this would place
Hauetwelle somewhere within the valley now occupied by Oxford Water
(SP 667 367). The
description of Ralph de Langeport’s land in 1226 also appears to
locate the mill here.
the Taxatio of 1291 the
church of Stowe was said to be worth £10 a year, and Oseney held
temporals in Stowe, Dadford, and Lamport worth £13 18s.
In the second half of the 14th century a south aisle was
added to Stowe church, although this was presumably a reflection of
the growing prosperity of the entire parish rather than Stowe village
It would appear that by the end of the 13th century the
settlement at Stowe was roughly on a par, in terms of population size,
with that of nearby Boycott.
In 1226 an agreement was reached between the abbot of Oseney, Ralph de Langeport and John son of Maurice on the one part, and Ralph Harang on the other part, whereby Ralph’s men of Chackmore gained the right to common of pasture in Stowe and Lamport, in return for a reciprocal arrangement whereby the men of Stowe and Lamport were to have common of pasture in Ralph’s land of Radclive and Chackmore. The parties further agreed to exclude a group of pastures belonging to the abbot, Ralph de Langeport and John son of Maurice from this arrangement, which were said to lie within the following bounds: as the king’s highway called Kingestrete runs from the vill of Lamport to the king’s highway called Buggilderode, and as the same road runs to the bridge of Boycott, so from the bridge by the course of the stream which goes down to the stream running from Stowe mill, and so by the stream to the mill, and from the mill to the way leading to Lamport, thus to the said highway called Kingestrete. Within these bounds one exception was made: Ralph Harang’s men were allowed common of pasture in the field of Westleg’, when it lay fallow, between 14 October and 25 December.
bounds can be accurately located: Kingestrete runs from Lamport via Hey Wey and Slant Road westwards
through Stowe village and beyond; Buggilderode
has been identified as the Roman road or a medieval successor
following a roughly similar course; the bridge at Boycott is that
located above Boycott Farm; the first stream is that described
elsewhere as Boycott Brook; the stream to Stowe mill is that draining
south from Home Farm via Oxford Water; the mill mentioned is Boycott
mill, located 500m east-south-east of the farm; and the way leading to
Lamport is that which follows the parish boundary north-west of
Chackmore, via New Inn Farm returning through the open fields to
Lamport. The importance
of these bounds in locating features described elsewhere will be of
great significance to the reconstruction of the medieval landscape of
the parish as a whole.
topographical features within the medieval landscape of Stowe may be
recovered from the extensive corpus of surviving charters. Thus, for
example, in a Biddlesden Abbey charter, half an acre in Puthfurlong, which lay in one of Dadford’s open fields, ‘extends
towards Buggerode next to the church of Stowe’ (extendit in Buggerode contra ecclesiam de Stowe). Another half-acre,
near the cross of Isaac (prope
crucem Ysaac), ‘extends towards Buggerode next to the grove of
Stowe’ (extendit in Buggerode
contra gravam de Stowe).
Oseney Abbey indeed held a grove within its manor of Stowe.
Oseney also possessed a sheepcote (bercharia)
at Stowe surrounded by a ditch, along which lay two acres granted to
the abbey in c.1220. This
land stretched above Uple as
far as the road which ran towards Radclive.
A later charter, of 1439, also refers to the ‘Stowe Shephowsys’,
and there was too a forge (fabrica)
on the manor.
One possible location for the sheepcote is immediately east of New Inn Farm where an oval enclosure is marked on the map. The origins of this enclosure are not known but it may simply delimit the extent of a nineteenth-century gravel pit. Nevertheless, it is located next to the Radclive road and there are neighbouring land parcels which equate closely to the two acre plot mentioned lying next to the sheepcote. A later smithy is known to have been located close to the church within the village area of Stowe, but given the shifting face of the village, it is unlikely that this will mark the site of the medieval forge.
Dadford in 1086 and 1279
1086 Dadford consisted of two separate manors. Haimard held two hides
from Roger de Ivry ‘as one manor’, and Hugh son of Gozhere held
another two hides in alms from the king. The value of both holdings
had fallen since the reign of Edward the Confessor, and only a single
plough was at work in each. At Haimard’s manor the recorded
population consisted of four bordars and one slave, while at Hugh’s
there was just three bordars.
1279 the village of Dadford consisted of at least 39 cottages. The
abbey of Biddlesden possessed four hides in demesne and 13 cottages
let to tenants, held of the earl of Cornwall as parcel of the honour
of St Valery. A further hide and 17 cottages were held by Biddlesden
of William de Braose, who in turn held of the earl of Gloucester as
parcel of the honour of Giffard. In addition, four free tenants held
land from Biddlesden Abbey, one of whom, Ralph de Langeport, the
holder of a virgate and two acres of assart, had himself let land to
an unspecified number of sub-tenants (cum parvis tenentibus suis). Finally, the abbey of Oseney held one
hide in demesne and nine cottages let to tenants, also as part of the
earldom of Gloucester’s honour of Giffard.
is uncertain whether the settlement at Dadford consisted of more than
one centre at the time of the Hundred Rolls inquiry, or whether it was
a single nucleated village, but clearly it was a place of some
considerable size. Indeed it was probably the main centre of
population in the parish at the end of the 13th century,
dwarfing the neighbouring settlements of Boycott, Lamport, and Stowe.
there are three discrete areas of habitation that make up the village:
one area around the cemetery at the junction of the lane to Wood Green
with the road which swings around the southern and western edges of
the Stowe estate; a row of houses on a side street to the east of the
main road; and a modern northern development on North Hill. The village is surrounded by ridge and furrow which clearly
terminate in areas of former occupation. This is clearly visible to the south-west. The most impressive medieval survivals, however, lie at the
back of the row of houses to the east. At least six long, thin plots can be made out from aerial
photographs backing onto a possible lane running along the edge of the
open fields. The street along which these plots fronted is almost certainly
a continuation of the Hey Wey, and a footpath to the west of the main
road might be the remnant of its course past Gorrell Farm to Wood
Green and beyond to Biddlesden and Brackley. Similar plots might also occupy the triangle of ground formed
south of this road and the main road. Two
other areas may also have been occupied: the first lies west of the
North Hill estate, in an area of rough and overgrown ground backing
onto the stream (SP 665 384); and the second lies east of the main
road opposite the cemetery (SP 669 380). From aerial reconnaissance alone, it is impossible to
understand fully the original morphology of the settlement. Certainly the settlement was extensive, as might be expected
given the large population, but it is also possible that this spread
may have resulted from its origins as two manors, with two distinct
Biddlesden Cartulary lists some 129 charters relating to the abbey’s
acquisition of its estate at Dadford. Unfortunately few of these are
dated. However, many of them describe topographical features which may
provide useful information for a reconstruction of the medieval
landscape. One charter,
dated 1217, describes land ‘within the four bounds’, granted to
the abbey by Simon the Franklin. Simon grants away all his rights to
the land ‘cultivated and uncultivated, in assarts and pastures, in
ways and paths’ which lies ‘from mainethorn to the boundary of Boycott, and to Neubotle, and from Neubotle
to the wood (nemus) of
Westbury where the boundaries of Shalstone and Dadford divide, and to
the head of Wodleie which is
next to the vill of Dadford’.
Although this boundary clause cannot be followed on a modern map with
any certainty, it appears to encompass a large tract of land,
presumably quadrangular in shape, which stretched from Dadford village
to the parish boundary with Shalstone to the border with Boycott. It
thus lay to the south of the present village in the west of the
the Franklin granted a further 10 acres of land in Dadford to the
monks of Biddlesden.
This lay scattered across the open fields, of which there were three
according to another Biddlesden charter.
Some of Simon’s land extended towards Boycott, abutting Bugerode and lying close to Boycott wood. The boundary between two
of Dadford’s open fields appears to have intersected the border of
Boycott at some point along its length. Land ‘in alio campo’
reached as far as Boicotebrocke
and the bridge of Boycott. In 1236 Robert the Franklin confirmed his
father’s charter of 1217, in which mention is made of an Infelde
and Haldefelde. These may be
the names of two of the open fields of Dadford.
a few cases there appears to be a concordance between the field names
recorded in the medieval charters and those depicted on the tithe map
of 1845. For example, Rinell field consisted of just over 27 acres of
pasture in the mid-19th century, lying in the area of
Dadford’s former open fields (SP 662 370).
This may be the successor of the medieval Ruinhull, mentioned in a
number of Biddlesden charters. Thus, half an acre at Withipoll
extended towards Ruynhull into the headland of William Kareles;
another half-acre lay upon that Ruinhull which was nearest to the vill
of Dadford; and one acre beside the quarry extended upon Ruinhull to
Likewise the name Anlow continued in use from the 13th to
the 19th century (SP 665 385). One acre upon Anlowe
extended upon the ditch of Robert de la More, and another extended
towards Heiholth. There was too a stream running below Hanlowe, as
there still is today.
Similarly the names Rooksmoor (SP 659 378)
and Ridgway (SP 661 373) (both in Dadford) have medieval
origins. Thus, one acre at Crowenest extended towards Rokesmor;
Ruggeweie lay adjacent, as it did in 1845.
Sufficient topographical information survives to make the
reconstruction of the landscape of medieval Dadford a real
possibility, despite the absence of early cartographic material.
is a good coincidence between the location of medieval furlong names
according to the tithe map schedule and the surviving ridge and
archaeological data suggest that Dadford’s open fields were the most
extensive of the four settlements within the parish. Whilst it is currently impossible to differentiate between the
three fields, it is clear that these lay to the south-west of the
village, abutting both Boycott and the Roman road (Bugerode),
and to the north of the village as far as the parish boundary. The ridge and furrow which does survive shows a more complex
arrangement than that seen in Boycott and Stowe. Changes in ridge alignment and interlocking furlongs are
common. References to
assarts in 13th-century documents implies that Dadford also held
areas of woodland. These
must have been located to the east and north of the settlement in
areas where ridge and furrow is absent. Certainly this is suggested by a reference to an assart at
Dadford which lies along the ditch of the park of Westbury and is on
the west side of Rudenge Weye, placing it in the extreme north of the
Most of the north-eastern part of the parish is free of ridge and
furrow and it is likely that Dadford, Stowe and Lamport all held
woodland in this part of the parish. Isolated patches of woodland might also have been present in
the southern part of the township, along stretches of Boycott Brook.
Lamport in 1086 and 1279
1086 Lamport consisted of two separate manors. Berner held 3½ hides
from Walter Giffard ‘as one manor’, and Gerard held 2½ hides from
Mainou the Breton. At Berner’s manor there was a recorded population
of six (two villeins, two bordars and two slaves), and three ploughs
(out of a possible four) were in use. At Gerard’s manor there was a
recorded population of five (one villein, three bordars and one
slave), and two ploughs (out of a possible three) were in use. Thus,
the recorded population at Lamport was greater than at the
neighbouring settlements of Boycott, Dadford, and Stowe. The two
manors of Lamport were also held by two different lords before the
Conquest. Their value (40s.
and 30s. respectively) had
remained constant, although Gerard’s manor was worth only 16s.
the time of the Hundred Rolls inquiry in 1279 the abbot of Oseney held
three hides at Lamport, of which one was in demesne and two (eight
virgates) were let to 11 tenants, one of whom was free. A further five
tenants held cottages. The abbot held the manor of the earl of Oxford,
who in turn held it of the earl of Gloucester. Also in 1279 Ralph de
Langport held three hides in Lamport, of which he held three virgates
in demesne and five virgates in villeinage, let to eight tenants. A
further 10 tenants held cottages. The remaining four virgates were
divided equally between Oseney Abbey and Studley Priory (Oxon.). Ralph
held the manor of John son of Alan de Wolverton. There was thus a
recorded tenant population of 34 at Lamport in 1279 (compared with 20
at Boycott, 42 at Dadford, and 17 at Stowe).
charters survive for Lamport than for Dadford. Thus, our knowledge of
the open fields of the manor derives largely from the survey of 1633.
In this year 16 tenants held more than 600 acres in the village,
meadow and three common fields.
Nevertheless, many details relating to the topography of the medieval
manor survive. For example, there are various indications that there
was a windmill at Lamport. One charter of 1439 refers to land lying by
Wynnemyllewey, and later documents (of 1566 and 1577) make explicit
the location of a windmill in the midst of Lamport’s fields.
A number of charters refer to land lying in ‘the fields of Lamport
and Stowe’, suggesting that the two sets of fields lay adjacent to
each other, or even that the two vills shared one or more common
fields. These charters mention a variety of furlong names –
Blacklond, Byglowefurlong, Crabtrefurlong, Plowethornfurlong – as
well as other landscape features, such as Lamport Grene and the stream
Although there is no cartographic evidence earlier than the tithe map
of 1845, Lamport was relatively unaffected by the creation of the
landscape gardens at Stowe. It may, therefore, be possible to identify
some of the features mentioned in the documentary record and begin to
reconstruct the late medieval landscape of the manor.
(xi) Lamport village and its field systems
The village site of Lamport lies under
pasture at SP 683 374. Three medieval holloways converge on the village, forming a
small triangular green. That
approaching from the west is the road known as Kingstrete. To the east
and west of the north-south holloway, house platforms are visible. These are not occupied on the tithe map, the remaining houses
all lying to the north. They
may represent medieval house platforms. A fourth terraceway leads from the green in a south-western
direction towards the River Alder and Stowe village beyond. Fieldwork to the south of the main centre identified a further
house platform (SP 684 373) and ploughing revealed other possible
house sites in the field to the north (Tomkins pers. comm.).
The full extent of the village and its original form is
therefore difficult to assess, and since the site continued in use
through to the 19th century, changes in its morphology should be
expected to have occurred. Quarrying,
deturfing, and at least one known episode of light ploughing will also
have affected the quality of the surviving earthworks. No evidence for crofts can be seen, perhaps indicative of the
fact that these lesser earthworks have been removed by later activity
and furrow appears on every side of the settlement, although it is
concentrated to the south, where the evidence suggests that the whole
of the area to the parish boundary formed this settlement’s open
fields. There are some long furlongs; however, the majority are small
and form an interlocking pattern. To the north, whilst there is remnant ridge and furrow in the
field closest to the settlement, the rest of the parish has none.
It has already been suggested that this part of the parish may
have been tree covered.
(xii) Summing Up
As with our assessment of Passenham parish, the archaeological evidence is good for both the Roman and medieval periods. There remains a large gap in the available evidence to help understand the transitional early medieval period. Whilst the creation of the house and gardens at Stowe has greatly changed the face of the parish, survivals from the medieval and earlier periods are considerable. Indeed, it can be seen that the course of the Alchester-Towcester road was ultimately to dictate many of the lines of the 18th-century gardens. The historical evidence for Stowe parish is more extensive than that for Passenham, containing far more of topographical interest. Furlong names, road names, and mentions of mills, a sheepcote and forge, all add to our understanding of the late medieval arrangements and provide fixed points for the positioning of landscape elements whose precise location remains unknown. Good population information and manorial descents will also aid our understanding of the development of the four settlements within the parish. Thus, despite the absence of cartographic evidence earlier than the 1845 tithe map, there is much to recommend Stowe as a parish which offers good opportunities to address the questions central to the Whittlewood Project. Summer fieldwork, and more historical research, notably concerning those documents now housed in the Huntington Library, will both add to our current base of information.
 Kelly’s Directory, Buckinghamshire (1939), p. 241.
 OS 6” Northants Sheet LX SW (1886), LXIV NE (1889), Bucks Sheet XIII NW (1900); PRO IR30/3/104.
 British Geological Survey 1” series Towcester (1969).
 Report on the excavations for the paths on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 15).
Archaeological report on the footings of a substantial building on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 16).
Archaeological report covering trenches 154-156 on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 19).
 Stowe Tithe Schedule 1845: field names include Ploughed Gravel; Gravel Piece; Stone Pit Spinney.
 Committee for Aerial Photography, University of Cambridge: Black and White obliques: GW-82 (19.7.51); HH-10 (7.6.52); HH-11 (7.6.52); HH-12 (7.6.52); LD-82 (13.4.53); LD-87 (13.4.53); BBN-78 (25.5.70). Colour Verticals: SP 6535-6543; SP 6635-6643; SP 6735-6743; SP 6834-6842; SP 6934-6937.
 Report on the excavations for the paths on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 15).
Archaeological report on the footings of a substantial building on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 16).
Archaeological report covering trenches 154-156 on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 19).
 Tingle, M. 2001 Whittlewood Project Flint Report.
 Margary, I.D. 1973 Roman Roads in Britain, 162-3.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 5920.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 4678.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 5801.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 6143.
 Viatores 1964 Roman roads in the south-east Midlands, 309-315. Route no. 166 Fenny Stratford – Buckingham.
 VCH Bucks, iv, pp. 232, 235; VCH Oxon., vi, pp. 3, 221; F R Thorn, ‘Hundreds and Wapentakes’, in The Buckinghamshire Domesday, ed. A Williams and R W H Erskine (London, 1988), p. 40.
 VCH Oxon., i, p. 421.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 296av.
 K S B Keats-Rohan, Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents 1066-1166. I. Domesday Book (Woodbridge, 1999), p. 351; VCH Oxon., i, p. 386; VCH Glos., ii, p. 80.
 Rackham, O. 1986 The History of the Countryside (London), 75-9.
 VCH Oxon., i, p. 421.
 The Old Series Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales, iv, Central England (Lympne Castle, 1986), p. 44.
 PRO IR30/3/104.
 PRO C67/6A, m. 7; G Baker, The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton (2 vols, London, 1822-41), ii, p. 76.
 The Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, ed. H E Salter (Oxford Historical Society, 98, 1935), no. 732.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 168-168v.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 166-166v.
 VCH Bucks, iv, p. 235.
 Rotuli Hundredorum, ed. W Illingworth and J Caley (2 vols, Record Commission, 1812-18), ii, p. 836.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 296a.
 VCH Bucks, iv, p. 235; BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 297.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 299v-300.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 5910.
 PRO E179/161/8, m. 5. The record of the 1306 lay subsidy is imperfect, but it seems that 11 taxpayers were resident at Boycott: E179/161/10, m. 6d. In 1327 the record of Boycott’s liability was combined with that of Lillingstone Lovell, listing 35 taxpayers compared with 34 in 1316-17: E179/161/9, m. 5d.
 PRO E179/161/39, m. 10.
 R M Smith, ‘Human resources’, in The Countryside of Medieval England, ed. G Astill and A Grant (Oxford, 1988), pp. 190-1.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, nos. 735A, 746.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, nos. 732, 752B, 753A.
 Bucks SMR CAS No. 5213.
 Bucks SMR CAS No. 5214.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 297.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 296.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 745; BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 295-295v.
 Bodleian Library, Oseney Rolls 94.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, nos. 750, 752; A Calendar of the Feet of Fines for the County of Buckingham, 7 Richard I to 44 Henry III, ed. M W Hughes (Buckinghamshire Record Society, 4, 1940), p. 77.
 Browne Willis, The History and Antiquities of the Town, Hundred and Deanery of Buckingham (London, 1755), p. 280; VCH Bucks, iv, p. 232; J V Beckett, The Rise and Fall of the Grenvilles: Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, 1710 to 1921 (Manchester, 1994), p. 12.
 Stowe Papers, Huntington Library, STTM Box 5 (5), transcribed by Richard Wheeler. I am grateful to Kate Felus for making this transcription available to me.
 NRO Temple (Stowe) 1/1/8.
 BRO D104/73.
 Buckinghamshire Glebe Terriers 1578-1640, ed. M Reed (Buckinghamshire Record Society, 30, 1997), p. 194.
 Archaeological report on the footings of a substantial building on the west side of the Elysian Fields (Report no. Stowe 16).
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 5900.
 M Reed, ‘Seventeenth-century Stowe’, Huntington Library Quarterly 44 (1981), p. 196.
 BRO D104/73.
 Reed, ‘Seventeenth-century Stowe’, p. 196; VCH Bucks, iv, p. 232.
 Bodleian Library, Oseney Rolls 94.
 Clarke, G. The History of Stowe – IV: Sir Richard Temple’s House and Gardens, 69
 BL Harleian Charters 86 G 26.
 J Sheail, The Regional Distribution of Wealth in England as indicated in the 1524/5 Lay Subsidy Returns, ed. R W Hoyle (2 vols, List & Index Society, Special Series, 28-9, 1998), ii, p. 23.
 PRO E179/78/128, m. 2d.
 VCH Bucks, i, p. 237.
 VCH Bucks, iv, p. 232.
 RH, ii, p. 341.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 735A.
 Bucks SMR CAS No. 5213; Bucks SMR CAS No. 5214.
 Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae auctoritate P. Nicholai IV circa AD 1291, ed. T Astle, S Ayscough, and J Caley (Record Commission, 1802), p. 32; Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, p. 240.
 M Reed, The Buckinghamshire Landscape (London, 1979), p. 160; VCH Bucks, iv, p. 236.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 732; Feet of Fines, 7 Richard I to 44 Henry III, p. 53.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 168-168v.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, nos. 733, 763.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 735B; Reed, Buckinghamshire Landscape, p. 141.
 BL Harleian Charters 86 A 44; Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 757.
 VCH Bucks, i, pp. 269, 275.
 RH, ii, pp. 340-1.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 4370.
 Reference is made to this route in an Oseney Abbey charter: ‘…one acre upon Anlawe which extends beside the road which leads to Brackley’: Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 757.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 166.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 166-166v.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 167-167v
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 167.
 PRO IR29/3/104; IR30/3/104.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, f. 168v.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 172, 181v.
 BL Harleian MS 4714, ff. 168v, 172.
 Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, no. 743.
 VCH Bucks, i, pp. 250, 270.
 RH, ii, p. 341.
 BRO D104/73.
 BL Harleian Charters 86 A 44; NRO Temple (Stowe) 1/2/3, 1/2/5.
 BL Harleian Charters 86 A 44; Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, v, nos. 735-7.
 Bucks SMR CAS no. 4025.