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Cogges Manor, Oxfordshire, England

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  • Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York (aft.1175 - 1255)
    Walter de Grey= to the National Trust referring to Greys court:In the early 13th century the estate belonged to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York. But it was his nephew, the 1st Baron de Grey, John, w...

Cogges Manor, Oxfordshire, England

Cogges Manor Farm is a one-time working farm in Cogges near Witney in Oxfordshire, now a heritage centre operated by a charitable trust and open to the public. Its aim is to give visitors an insight into farm life, and how the food they eat is husbanded or cultivated. Additionally it provides workshops for school children and adults about food production, local history, horticulture and rural arts and crafts. The grounds and the medieval barns are used for traditional festivals, theatrical performances and private functions.

It also serves the community as a recreational facility where families can meet and feed the animals, enjoy the ambience of the farmyard, the orchard and a traditional walled vegetable garden, and wander around the woodland site of a disused moat on the banks of the Windrush.

Though close to the busy centre of Witney, the Farm is surrounded by common land and pasture, giving it a remarkably rural feel.

Though not geographically in the Cotswolds the buildings of the Farm and the older parts of Witney have many of the characteristics of a Cotswold settlement. It lies within the boundary of the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Wychwood.

Short History

The original Manor House was a Cotswold stone building dating from the middle of the 13th century. It originally comprised four ranges built around a courtyard. Of these the 13th century kitchen and part of the hall survive from one range and the dairy incorporates remains of one of the other ranges. The other two ranges have been lost, but traces or foundations of both of them survive. In the 13th century the Manor had a large fishpond, but since 1984 part of the site of the pond has been covered by modern houses.

The manor house was probably built after Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York bought part of the manor of Cogges in AD 1241. In 1242 the house was described as the Archbishop's Court. By 1245 the Archbishop had given Cogges Manor to his nephew Sir Robert de Grey, with whose heirs the house remained until 1485. More than once in its history the family used the house as a dower house for the widows of successive Barons Grey of Rotherfield.

During the 16th century the manor passed through various owners. One of them altered the mediaeval hall by inserting a first floor and adding a new, higher roof. The Blake family bought the manor in 1667 and added the current second wing to the house.[4] In 1726 Daniel Blake sold Cogges Manor Farm to Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt. The Harcourt family leased out Cogges Manor Farm until 1919, when the then tenants, the Mawle family, bought the freehold.[4] In 1974 Oxfordshire County Council bought Cogges Manor Farm and converted the house and farmstead into a museum.


Cogges Manor Farm then operated as a living museum depicting rural life in Oxfordshire during the Victorian era, subsidised by Oxfordshire County Council. At the end of the summer season on 31 August 2009 the council withdrew funding and the museum closed. At the time it was reported that a new charitable trust intended to reopen the museum in April 2010.

Since the 2011 re-opening

In July 2011 Cogges Manor Farm re-opened, now operated by a charitable trust,[9] the site and buildings being leased from Oxfordshire County Council[10] at a 'peppercorn rent' that is in practice a basket of apples.[11] It is no longer a Museum in the conventional sense. Instead it is being developed as a place where families and individuals can relax, learn, and contribute voluntarily to its operation with the aim of giving visitors a better understanding of food and its production, both historically and today.

The Farm has been changed from a museum to an educational and recreational heritage site. Small farmyard animals such as chickens, ducks, pigs and goats are husbanded using traditional methods and vegetables are grown for food in a classical 'walled garden'. The transition has been accomplished chiefly by the efforts of volunteers under the direction of a minimal management team.

The concept is that through volunteering and training opportunities, courses and workshops, school learning activities and by seeing the work first-hand, visitors and volunteers are able to appreciate the ups and downs of small scale farming.[12]

Displays and activities, coupled with conducted tours, explain how the Cogges Manor Farm site has developed since Saxon times, how its past residents made a living and how the farm has continually evolved in response to changing fortunes and opportunities. The hitherto neglected and overgrown medieval moated area, after being sensitively cleared by volunteers, provides play opportunities and family trails that connect with this theme.

The intention is to develop the venue into a self-funding prime visitor attraction, hosting events such as food markets and a beer festival to supplement admission fees.[13]

With support from local businesses the surfaces of the open yards and the interiors of the two barns have been improved while retaining their essential period atmosphere. The site has been used successfully for theatre productions, both in the open air on the lawns[14] and in the barns. The barns have become popular locations for wedding receptions. Such special events promise to yield an income stream that will enable the Trust to become sustainable.

UK Prime Minister and local MP David Cameron visited the attraction in January 2011 prior to the re-opening and described the Trust's plans as "enterprising".[15][16] He visited again on 13 September 2013, when he congratulated the Trust on its successful operation to date.


In 1086 COGGES, assessed at 5 hides, was held of Odo of Bayeux by Wadard, (fn. 94) who is depicted, armed and mounted, on the Bayeux Tapestry. The core of Wadard's extensive sub-barony under Odo lay in Wootton hundred, and Cogges may already have been the caput. (fn. 95) Wadard evidently fell with Odo, for by the early 12th century Manasser Arsic was established on Wadard's former barony, described in 1166 as 18 ¼ fees held of the ward of Dover Castle. (fn. 96) In 1101 Manasser was a hostage in the treaty between Henry I and the Count of Flanders. (fn. 97) Shortly before 1103 he gave his house at Cogges to Fecamp abbey to found a priory, suggesting that Cogges was his principal manor. (fn. 98) He died after 1122 (fn. 99) and was succeeded by his son Robert Arsic, who witnessed charters of King Stephen. (fn. 1) By the mid 1150s Manasser (II) had succeeded and was ordered by Henry II to desist from invading lands of Cogges priory laid waste during the Anarchy. (fn. 2) Cogges remained his caput: in 1165–6 he directed that rent from land at Swindon (Wilts.) was to be paid at Cogges. (fn. 3) He died between 1171 and 1190 (fn. 4) and was succeeded by his son Alexander Arsic, lord of Cogges until his death in 1201, whose successive heirs were his sons John d. s.p. 1204–5), (fn. 5) and Robert. (fn. 6)
Robert Arsic died in 1229–30 and was succeeded in the barony of Cogges by his daughters and coheirs Joan, wife of Eustace de Grenville, and Alexandra, wife of Thomas de la Haye; (fn. 7) Robert's relict Sibyl de Crevequer, who retained dower in Cogges as elsewhere, was dead by 1242. In 1241 Joan Arsic sold her moiety to Walter de Grey, archbishop of York, who immediately acquired portions of Alexandra's moiety, a garden, 3 a., the manorial fishpond, 34 a. land, and 200 a. wood. (fn. 8) One effect of his transactions was to create the curtilage of the archbishop's court, later Manor Farm, and to reduce that of the old manor house by the river. (fn. 9) In 1242–3, therefore, Cogges was divided between the archbishop and the de la Hayes. (fn. 10) In 1279 the de Grey portion comprised 2 demesne carucates and c. 15 tenant yardlands, the former de la Haye portion only ½ carucate of demesne and 3 ½ tenant yardlands. The tenants of both were bound to do ward at Dover Castle five times every two years, each time providing between them four knights for 40 days; the de Grey moiety had then been commuted for 20s. a year. (fn. 11) The two parts, together with Wilcote (then a member of the de Grey holding), made up 3/8 of a knight's fee: in 1284–5 the de Grey holding was assessed at ⅓ of a fee, and later as ¼ of a fee. (fn. 12)

By 1245 the archbishop had given his estate in Cogges to Sir Walter de Grey, son of his brother Robert. (fn. 13) Walter died in 1268 and the estate passed in the direct male line to Sir Robert de Grey (d. 1295), (fn. 14) Sir John (d. 1311), (fn. 15) and John, 1st Lord Grey of Rotherfield (d. 1359). (fn. 16) The Greys regularly used Cogges as a dower manor: Sir Walter's relict Isabel of Duston was holding it in 1279; it was assigned to Sir John's relict Margaret d'Oddingseles on his death in 1311; and Avice Marmion, relict of the 1st Lord Grey, had it after 1359. (fn. 17) Margaret probably lived at Cogges, since she is almost certainly commemorated by a lavish tomb and chapel in the church. (fn. 18)

The remains of the de la Haye moiety of Cogges descended on Alexandra's death to her daughter Alexandra, wife of William de Gardinis. (fn. 19) In 1279 Thomas de Gardinis, William's son and heir, was holding the manor during his father's lifetime for 1/8 of a fee. (fn. 20) He succeeded on his father's death in 1287 and was one of the lords of Cogges in 1316; (fn. 21) in 1293 he claimed exemption from jury service on the grounds that he held the barony of Cogges. (fn. 22) In 1328 he died, holding a capital messuage, lands, and rents in Cogges, together with property in Somerton and Fringford, for ⅓ of a knight's fee, paying 52s. 6d. for ward at Dover Castle. His heir was John Giffard the younger of Twyford (Bucks.), son of his daughter Alexandra. (fn. 23) In 1338, John, Lord Grey, was licensed to enfeoff John Giffard with land in Fringford in exchange for most of his Cogges property. (fn. 24) Cogges was effectively reunited in the hands of the Greys, although the remains of the Giffard lands comprised a separate estate until the 18th century. (fn. 25)

John, 2nd Lord Grey, succeeded to the reunited manor in 1359. (fn. 26) He died in 1375, leaving as heir his son Bartholomew, who died the same year. (fn. 27) Cogges was still held by the dowager Avice Marmion, relict of the first Lord Grey, in 1379, when Bartholomew's brother Robert, Lord Grey, settled the lands. (fn. 28) Robert died seised in 1388; his heir was his daughter Joan, who later married Sir John Deincourt, Lord Deincourt, and died in 1408, (fn. 29) but Cogges was assigned in dower to Robert's second wife Elizabeth, relict of John of Birmingham and later wife of Sir John Clinton, Lord Clinton (d. 1398), and of Sir John Russell. Elizabeth died in 1423 seised of the manor, (fn. 30) which passed to Joan's daughters and coheirs, Alice wife of William Lovel, Lord Lovel, and Margaret wife of Sir Ralph Cromwell. (fn. 31) It remained divided between them until Margaret died without issue in 1454, leaving Alice as her heir. (fn. 32) William, Lord Lovel, died in 1455; (fn. 33) Alice married secondly Sir Ralph Butler, later Lord Sudeley, and held Cogges until her death in 1474. (fn. 34)

The heir to the de Grey estate in Cogges was Alice's grandson Francis, Lord Lovel; (fn. 35) he was attainted in 1485, and the manor escheated to the Crown. (fn. 36) In the same year Henry VII granted Cogges, along with other Oxfordshire manors, to his brother Jasper, duke of Bedford. (fn. 37) When Jasper died without legitimate issue in 1495 (fn. 38) the manor passed back into royal hands and in 1509 Anthony Fettiplace, squire for the body, was made steward of Cogges and other manors in Oxfordshire. (fn. 39) In 1514 all the manors were granted by Act of Parliament to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, in tail male, and in 1517 Thomas leased Cogges to William Bryan for 21 years. (fn. 40) Thomas's son and heir Thomas inherited Cogges in 1524, and sold it to the Crown in 1540. (fn. 41) In 1543 the Crown granted the manor to Lord Audley, the Lord Chancellor, and Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford; (fn. 42) Audley immediately quitclaimed to Pope, and in 1545 the manor was confirmed to Pope alone. (fn. 43)

John Pope, brother of Sir Thomas (d. 1559), (fn. 44) inherited the manor and was succeeded in 1583 by his son William, created earl of Downe in 1628. (fn. 45) When William died in 1631 his heir was his grandson Thomas (d. 1660), baptized at Cogges in 1622, and the Crown granted Cogges to William Murray during the minority; the manor house was held during the 1630s by Elizabeth Peniston, widow of Thomas's father Sir William Pope (d. 1624), and her husband Sir Thomas Peniston. (fn. 46) Thomas, earl of Downe, suffered badly during the Civil War and sold most of his lands; Cogges, one of his four remaining estates, was granted in 1660 to Sir Francis Henry Lee of Ditchley on his marriage to Thomas's daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 47) In 1660 and 1665 most of the demesne was leased to one man, Thomas Collier, who lived in the manor house. (fn. 48) In 1667 the Lees sold the manor to Francis Blake and his son William. (fn. 49) The Blakes were a London family; William, a woollen draper, may have been interested in the Witney blanket industry. His charitable ventures in London brought financial troubles, but in Oxfordshire he prospered, became sheriff in 1689, and at his death in 1695 left substantial charities, notably for Blake's School at Cogges. (fn. 50) William was succeeded by his brother Sir Francis Blake of Ford Castle (Northumb.). (fn. 51) His relict, Sarah, who was to have half the manor-house, quarrelled with her brother-in-law over William's arrangements for Cogges. (fn. 52) Sir Francis died childless in 1717 and the manor passed to his cousin Daniel Blake, a woollen draper; he fell into financial difficulties, mortgaged the manor in 1720, and sold it to Simon Harcourt, Viscount Harcourt, in 1726; at that date the manor house was occupied by Henry Franklin and Edward Wilts. (fn. 53) Lordship of the manor then descended in the Harcourt family, (fn. 54) and Manor farm was leased, first to Thomas Beconsale and then, from the 1740s until 1877, to the Hollis family. (fn. 55) In 1877 the farm was leased to Joseph Mawle of Worminghall, whose family remained the principal farmers in Cogges, bought Manor farm in 1919, and sold it to Oxfordshire county council in 1974. (fn. 56)

The PRIORY or RECTORY manor originated in Manasser Arsic's grant to Fécamp abbey, shortly before 1103, of his house of Cogges, the church of the vill with its land, 2 ploughlands, firewood, a garden, 40 a. of meadow, William of Wilcote's meadow, and all tithes. (fn. 57) In the 14th century Cogges, as an alien priory, (fn. 58) suffered temporary seizures and was let at farm from 1375 onwards. (fn. 59) In 1441 Henry VI granted the land, the priory house, and the living to the newly founded Eton College, (fn. 60) which continued to farm the estate to a succession of local tenants. (fn. 61) In 1859 Oxford diocese bought the Priory and its curtilage for use as a vicarage, (fn. 62) but the rest of the estate, by then centred on Northfield Farm, was retained by Eton College.

Following the reunification of the main manor in 1338 an estate of c. 200 a., called a manor in 1345, was retained by the Giffards; (fn. 63) in 1361 possessions entailed by John Giffard the younger on his son Thomas included 30s. rent in Cogges. (fn. 64) The estate descended with Twyford (Bucks.) until the death in 1550 of Thomas Giffard, when it passed to his daughter Ursula, wife of Sir Thomas Wenman; (fn. 65) thereafter it descended with the Wenmans of Thame Park. (fn. 66) In 1753 it was among several estates mortgaged by Philip Wenman, Viscount Wenman, on whose death in 1760 it was devised to trustees for payment of debts. In 1784, following a dispute in chancery, it was sold to George Simon Harcourt, Earl Harcourt, and was thereafter reunited with the main manor


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