Lillingstone Lovell


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Lillingstone Lovell

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 and John.

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.

Other Luffield 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.

December 2003