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Kirtlington Manor, Oxfordshire, England

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Kirtlington Manor, Oxfordshire, England

Kirtlington was a royal manor in the time of Edward the Confessor, and was presumably already a hundredal manor in the 10th century. It is first mentioned in 945, when a payment was made there to the king, and in 977 Edward the Martyr held a witenagemot there at which Archbishop Dunstan was present. 'CHERIELINTONE' appears in Domesday Book as an important royal manor yielding £52 yearly, and having the soke of 2½ hundreds, which are identifiable in the later hundred of Ploughley. Early in Henry II's reign, however, the manor was held by Richard de Humez, Constable of Normandy; and as it does not appear in the pipe rolls under terre date it must have already been alienated under Henry I. Richard de Humez's wife, Agnes, was a daughter of Jordan de Say and Lucy de Aulnay, by whom Kirtlington church was given to Aulnay Abbey. It seems likely, therefore, that the manor had been held by Jordan de Say, a conjecture supported by an entry in the 1130 pipe roll. Richard's son, William de Humez, was holding the manor when it escheated as terra Normannorum in 1203. By an unusual arrangement its administration was apparently placed in the hands of the reeve and four men of the village; but this cannot have been for long as in 1204 it was handed over from the custody of Geoffrey le Sauvage to the royal minister, John Fitzhugh, who was to account for it at the Exchequer. Fitzhugh was still in possession in November 1215, when he was ordered to hand over part of the fee to Ralph de Montibus; but he deserted the king in 1216 and was deprived of the remainder of the fee in favour of John's mercenary captain William de Bréauté. William held the manor until the siege of Bedford. On 11 March 1224 Thomas Basset, of Headington, was given seisin of it during pleasure; on 30 April it was restored to de Bréauté, only to be handed back to Basset three weeks later. In 1227 it was formally granted by charter to Thomas Basset and his heirs. In 1230 the manor passed, on Thomas's death, to his brother Gilbert Basset, of Wycombe. In 1233, when Gilbert's fiefs were confiscated in consequence of his part in the rebellion of that year, Kirtlington manor was given to Henry de Trubleville during pleasure; but it was shortly restored to Gilbert, who obtained a charter in 1235.

William de Humez had held his Oxfordshire lands by service of ½ knight; possibly this included other lands beside Kirtlington. In the 13th century Kirtlington's assessment was for ¼ knight's fee; with Nether Orton and Bignell it made up a single fee.

Gilbert Basset was followed successively by his brothers, Fulk, Bishop of London 1244–59, and Philip, justiciar 1261–3. In 1255 Fulk Basset was authorized to tallage his tenants on the manor if it was indeed ancient demesne. He also had view of frankpledge. On Philip's death in 1271 the manor remained as dower in the hands of his wife, Ela, dowager Countess of Warwick, who in 1279 was enjoying among other rights the liberty of return of royal writs.

Philip Basset's heiress, Alina, widow of Hugh Despenser who was killed at Evesham, and by her second marriage wife of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, was outlived by her mother. Kirtlington therefore passed in 1297 to Alina's son Hugh Despenser, later Earl of Winchester. It was pillaged, with many other Despenser manors, when in the king's hand during Despenser's exile (1321–2). On its forfeiture in 1326 it was granted (2 March 1327) with a group of Despenser's Oxfordshire manors and much other property to Edward III's uncle, Thomas of Brotherton, as part of the provision intended for him by Edward I. In 1332 it was among the manors which, with Thomas' acquiescence, the king granted to his kinsman, William de Bohun, later Earl of Northampton. In 1360 it passed to his son, Humphrey, then a minor, on whose early death in 1373 the vast Bohun inheritance was divided between his daughters, Eleanor and Mary, subsequently married to Thomas of Woodstock and Henry of Bolingbroke respectively. In 1374 Kirtlington was among the lands committed in wardship to Eleanor's future husband; later it was assigned definitely to her moiety of the inheritance. On her death in 1399, her daughter and heiress, Anne, Countess of Stafford, succeeded to her estates; but in the repartition of the Bohun lands which took place in 1421 on the death of Humphrey de Bohun's long-lived widow, Kirtlington was included in the share transferred to the king, and thus became a manor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

With many other manors, Kirtlington was assigned in dower to three successive queens of England: to Katharine, the queen-mother, in 1422; to Margaret of Anjou in 1444; and to Elizabeth Woodville in 1467–8. Its stewardship was an office of profit, which was for some time held by William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. A clerk, Richard Martyn, was granted custody of the manor for life in 1481; Sir Edward Wydville was assigned a pension on it six months later. In the 16th century the manor was normally farmed out. Thomas Lovett was farming it in 1517, as was John Wellesborne between 1526 and 1537. It was retained by the Crown 1543–55, but from 1556 to 1622 it was in the hands of an Oxfordshire family, a branch of the Ardens of Cottisford. In addition to farming Kirtlington manor, the Ardens were much the largest landowners in the parish. They owed their position to Anthony Arden (d. 1573), who had held some freehold land in Kirtlington since 1538; later he married, as her second husband, the granddaughter and heiress of the woolman John Cockes, who had held 11¾ yardlands freehold in the manor. In 1556 Anthony Arden bought from John Dormer of Steeple Aston another sizeable freehold, and finally (1568) Anthony and John Arden acquired the 'manor' of Kirtlington and Tackley, which had belonged to Bicester Priory. Anthony was followed by his sons John (d. 1605) and Henry (d. 1622). The association of the Ardens with Kirtlington was probably more direct than that of any family which had previously held the manor. Henry Arden left no male heir, and was followed as farmer for two years by Hugh Keate.

In 1604, however, the Crown had sold Kirtlington, with other manors, to Peter Vanlore, merchant, and William Blake, both of London. It was to be held, in free socage, as of the manor of Enfield (Mdx.) at an annual rent of £43 6s. 8d., and the existing farmer's lease, of 41 years from 1584, was explicitly protected. In 1610 Vanlore and Blake resold Kirtlington for £3,000 to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, chief justice of Chester, who held his first court as lord of the manor in 1625, in which year he died. His son Thomas bought Northbrook in 1641, a step which in effect united the two manors.

In 1682 Penelope, daughter of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, Bt. (grandson of the chief justice), was married to Robert Dashwood. Sir Thomas himself died in 1682. By the marriage settlement all the Chamberlayne estates in Kirtlington passed to Robert Dashwood, on whom a baronetcy was conferred in 1684. The Dashwoods held Northbrook and Kirtlington until 1909. Although they were great landowners elsewhere in Oxfordshire, their main residence in the county was at first at Northbrook House and later at Kirtlington Park. In 1909, the estate was bought by the Earl of Leven and Melville.His successor sold it in 1920 to J. White Esq., who never resided in the parish. In 1921 it was bought by H. M. Budgett Esq.

Domesday Book does not differentiate between Northbrook Gaytorum (the present NORTHBROOK) and Northbrook iuxta Somerton, once in the parish of Somerton. It records 3 small fees in Northbrook; the largest of these, 2 hides held by Rainald of Robert de Stafford, is identifiable with Northbrook Gaytorum, since in 1193 Hilda de Gay held in Northbrook de feodo Roberti de Stafford. In 1242 Northbrook Gaytorum was held in chief by the Abbot of Westminster as ¼ knight's fee, and in 1255 it constituted a part of the abbot's liberty of Islip, the abbot having acquired his right since 1216. The heirs of Philip Basset held as sub-tenants of the abbot in 1279. From the 12th century to the 16th, however, the ultimate tenants were the Gays, originally a branch of the family that held Hampton Gay. The Northbrook tithing attended the two 'great courts' at Islip manor each year, and paid 3s. cert-money at least until the early 16th century. After the Reformation 'the lordship and manor' of Northbrook was among the endowments of Westminster Abbey as refounded successively by Mary and Elizabeth. Northbrook is mentioned as part of Islip manor in a lease of 1687, but by this date the connexion with Westminster Abbey and Islip can have been no more than a meaningless survival. ) In. practice the connexion with Kirtlington must always have been much closer, Northbrook having no separate field system. Suit was owed at Kirtlington and Adam de Gay witnessed many charters in the manorial court in the 13th century. In 1422 the lord of Northbrook, as a tenant-at-will, owed 9s. 5d. in commuted labour services to the lord of Kirtlington,while the customary tenants of Northbrook vill owed a further 4s. In about 1540 the Kirtlington homage presented that John de Gay had held Northbrook of the king as of his manor of Kirtlington, owing an annual rent of 13s. 5d. Between about 1570 and 1641 the manor changed hands many times. William Arscote of Holdsworthy (Devon) acquired it from the Gays after litigation arising out of non-fulfilment of a marriage agreement between the families. By a marriage settlement on Arscote's daughter (1578) it passed to John Fox, yeoman, of Kirtlington. By a further marriage settlement (1609) it was to pass to William Holleyman of Long Handborough; but in 1619 it was sold to John Hollins, presumably acting for John Hawley, D.C.L. of Oxford University, to whom the property was transferred almost immediately. Thomas Chamberlayne bought it from Edmund Hawley in 1641.

The KIRTLINGTON manor of Bicester Priory was given in free alms to the priory by Gilbert Basset shortly before his death in 1241. This estate, whose annual value was assessed at £5 3s. 3d. In 1291, had been bought by Gilbert Basset from Baldwin de Montibus in 1239 for 100 marks. It had originally been part of the main manor, having been granted by William de Humez to Baldwin's father, Ralph. Presumably it escheated with the De Humez fee in 1203, for in 1215 it was 'restored' to Ralph to be held by him in chief of the Crown. In 1222, on the death of his brother Herbert to whom he had subinfeudated it in 1217, Ralph did homage for it as for 1/7 knight's fee. Shortly afterwards, however, it was in the hands of the king's uncle, William, Earl of Salisbury, on whose death it was committed to Thomas Basset during pleasure. It was again restored to Ralph de Montibus in 1227, and passed to his son Baldwin in 1234. The estate was held by Bicester Priory until the Dissolution. In 1535 the priory's lands in Kirtlington and Tackley were under one bailiff, and were later sometimes called a single manor. They were acquired by the Ardens in 1568 and thereafter followed the descent of the main manor.

The KIRTLINGTON manor of the Abbot of Aulnay must have been larger than the 1279 survey implies. In 1341–2 his lands, apart from the glebe, comprised 3 carucates. The Aulnay deeds show many instances of gifts of a few acres, or often a single acre, in free alms to the abbey by individual local freeholders. One deed mentions a tenant bringing an action for land in the abbot's court of Kirtlington per breve regis, and another, dated 1270, suggests that the abbot enjoyed view of frankpledge.

The Chamberlayne family purchased the Kirtlington estate in 1623. On the death of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne in 1682, the Chamberlayne estates passed to Robert Dashwood (cr Bt 1684) who had married Penelope, daughter of Sir Thomas, earlier the same year, the main residence being Northbrook House. In 1741 Sir James Dashwood (d 1779), who succeeded from his grandfather Sir Robert (d 1734), commissioned designs for a new mansion on his estate, to be set in a clearing made in what had previously been known as the Great Wood, a wood of oak and Spanish chestnut. The house was ready for occupation by 1746 and in 1750 Northbrook House was demolished.

A scheme for the grounds was supplied in the mid 1740s by the then Royal Gardener, Thomas Greening, some parts of which were carried out. A plan survives showing this scheme to have been focused on the land west of the house. In 1751 Sir James signed a contract with Lancelot Brown (1716-83) for the landscaping of the grounds, and work proceeded over the next four years. The two surviving plans show Brown's plans for the pleasure grounds and for the north park (Stroud 1975).

The Dashwoods held Northbrook and Kirtlington until 1909, when the estate was bought by the Earl of Leven and Melville. It has since passed through a series of hands, having been split into a number of ownerships. //

Kirtlington Park is a Grade I listed 18th-century Palladian country house, is about 1⁄2 mile (800 m) east of the village.[13] It is set in 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) of parkland, landscaped by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, with views over the gardens to the Chiltern Hills.

The house was built for Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Baronet (1715–79), after he had married an heiress, Elizabeth Spencer. In 1740 he was elected a knight of the shire (MP) for Oxfordshire. Kirtlington Park, still unfinished at Dashwood's death, remained in the family until 1909, when Sir George John Egerton Dashwood, 6th baronet, sold the house to the Earl of Leven and Melville. By 1922 it was owned by Hubert Maitland Budgett.

In the Second World War the park was used as a Victory garden. Kirtlington Park is licensed to hold civil weddings.


In 1926 Hubert Budgett founded the polo club after Major Deed, who had lived in Argentina, persuaded him to play the game. In 1954, after the Second World War, Hubert Budgett's son Alan reopened the club and added a second ground. By 2005 a sixth polo ground had been added. Famous players who started by playing at Kirtlington Park include Malcolm Borwick, Henry Brett and Robert Thame.

Kirtlington Park polo school was founded in 1994