Deddington is set on a hill and cannot be hid. Its market place is 416ft. above sea level, and the measurement to the top of the church tower battlements adds 86 1/2ft. more. No wonder that the parish church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul with its crown of vane-topped pinnacles appears on guard at every approach.

But long before there was a church that summit with its outcrop of hard ribbed ironstone must have been a notable landmark, lifting itself above the misty valleys of Swere and Cherwell. Altitude was valuable for security, and early settlers may well have planned here a strong place not very different from Ilbury Camp, though presenting no such actual traces of fortification. That well-known stronghold of the ancient people is described by the Rev. E. Marshall in his Historical and Descriptive Notes as designed to protect them and their cattle and their perishable dwelling huts within an enclosure defended by natural steepness, earth embankments and felled trees. Mr. Marshall writes of these that "the race was brave, and endowed with capabilities that awaited development" ; and there is no reason to doubt that this tribute would not apply to the inhabitants here. In due course opportunity came, a civilisation perhaps first dimly begun through the proximity of a traders' trackway, believed to have existed along the Cherwell Valley from a remote age.

Deddington is on the rock, Clifton in the Clay, with southward the geological stratum called the great oolite. I am privileged to live in a Deddington cottage built of the same stone as the rocky outcrop—a ferruginous marlstone quarried nearby—which shines richly gold in the sunshine. Standing on its threshold I can put my hand on fan-shaped shells, white, with lines delicately etched, embedded in the rough-hewn building blocks. All about, in every golden brown stone wall, even in the slabs of paving, Deddington bears such witness to Earth's strange vicissitudes and unfathomable past. After all modernity merely means 'now', and against a background of much the same mystery and wonder primitive man's sense of the present was vivid as our own. Flint implements are still found in this neighbourhood testifying to an industry and enthusiasm in the artificer comparable to those efforts which have harnessed electricity and are conquering the air.

Here, man looked up, beheld the heavenly bodies and worshipped. Remnants of his faith and rites survive in our superstitions and in many of the things we do. Cards are dealt and wine is passed 'sun wise' ; the new moon has great significance for us, is often curtseyed to. We are proud of our dancing county of Oxford, little recking that in the hand-linked circles folk-lorists trace sun-worship, and in those figures danced backs to centre the grim ritual of human sacrifice—victim in the middle, those assisting encircling the altar with averted faces.

'The address of this village is Deddington, Oxford', says the Post Office notice. But it was not always a village, it was a Market Town. Now it is accurately a 'decayed Market Town.' It was also a Parliamentary Borough. It is in the Hundred of Wootton and the Union of Woodstock.

Here are some spellings of Deddington. The first carries with it history of origin. It is Daedintun in the signature of Brightuuinus de Daedintun, a witness to an early Charter, A.D. 1049-52. The name, Mr. Marshall writes, 'implies that it was the town of the Daedings, the descendant of a settler, or owner, who is designated in the first syllable of the word ; the suffix "tun" denoting the inclosures which had been formed from the open land, or waste, the nucleus of the present town. The name of Clifton is significative of a similar inclosure on the hill-side......while Hempton may be taken as a variation from Hampton, and descriptive of the site of a home or hamlet made by inclosure.' Cliftone, Hamptone, Heentone and Hampton are all found in the ancient spellings. Tabulated, with sources of quotation, the old variations of Deddington run thus :—

A.D. 1049-52.   Daedintun : Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Sasconici.
1083-86.   Dadintone : Domesday Book.
1154-63.   Dedinton : Cartulary of the Abbey of Eynsham.
1216-1307.   Daddinton : Testa de Nevill Sive.
1233.   Dadynton : Close Rolls of the reign of Henry III.
1270.   Dadinthone : Cartulary of the Abbey of Eynsham.
1289.   Tadynton : Cartulary of the Abbey of Eynsham.
1312.   Dathintone : Geoffrey de Baker's account of the captivity of Piers Gaveston.
1528.   Dadyngton : Lease from Windsor Manor.
1535.   Dodyngton : Grant of Coat of Arms to Thomas Pope of D., Esqre.
1606.   Dadington : Will of Anthony Stilgoe.
1644.   Dedington : Visit of Charles I.   (Diary of Capt. Symonds).

Now we always spell it Deddington, but often call it Ded'n'ton.

In Domesday Book, that remarkable monument of surveying, the land here is reckoned among the possessions of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror, and is thus described :—

"The same bishop holds Dadintone : there are thirty-six hides there : there is land to thirty ploughs : there were eleven hides in the demesne besides inland : there are now eighteen hides and a half in the demesne, and there are ten ploughs there : and twenty-five serfs and sixtyfour villeins with ten bordars have twenty ploughs : there are three mills of fortyone shillings and one hundred eels : and there are one hundred and forty acres of meadow and thirty acres of pasture : from meadows ten shillings : it was worth in King Edward's time and after forty pounds ; now sixty pounds : five thanes."

The King Edward referred to was, of course, the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor.

Explanation of the terms used cannot be more clearly described than in the words of Mr. Marshall. "Demesne" and "Inland" alike imply the immediate occupation of the lord, who cultivated it by means of those whose services he could compel. But the latter was taken in for culture with the demesne while the former was originally held.

'Of the persons mentioned the "serfs" were the lowest class, and most completely in the power of the lord ; the "villeins" were dependants who were not free, but obliged to certain fixed services ; the "bordars" were cottagers, who also had to perform compulsory services......while the "thanes" were in a social position similar to that of the "knights" of a later period. The rent service of eels was one that was very commonly rendered where there was water.'

The "hide" was not then a fixed quantity, but Mr. Marshall calculates that a measurement of one hundred and six acres to the hide would make it correspond to the area described with an excess of only two acres. It was fixed in the reign of Henry II as consisting of one hundred acres.


That 'the manorial rights of Deddington have from an early period had a threefold division, by which as many separate manors have been formed,' is the statement with which the Rev. E. Marshall heads his chapter number two of learned historical and genealogical research, tracing their origin, inheritance, or creation. The Manors, as every good Deddingtonian knows, are the Duchy Manor, the Windsor Manor and the Christ Church Manor.

The first has a claim to romance for it might be called 'the Dower of Queens', and was the estate of the sovereign in Deddington, now forming part of the Duchy of Lancaster. Royal interest in the Manor began when William de Bohun died in 1360, seised of one-third part,  which descended through his son

Humphrey to the latter's two daughters, Eleanor and Mary, who were co-heiresses. Eleanor, the elder, married Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Edward III, who at his death was entitled to one-third of the Manor of Deddington in right of his wife. Mary, the younger sister, married Henry IV in 1384 and was mother of Henry V., who made provision for the union of his inheritance from her with the Duchy of Lancaster in 1414. In 1420, on the death of Joanna, widow of Humphrey de Bohun, her grand-daughter (daughter of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester) Anne, Countess of Stafford became co-heir with Henry V. A partition was made between them, by which the aforenamed portion of the Manor of Deddington, value £13.6.8., came into possession of the king. Then it was assigned by him, and confirmed by Parliament as part of the dower of Catherine de Valois, who was married to him the same year (1420).

The next queen to be so endowed was Margaret of Anjou, queen of Henry VI., and the course of making this portion of the Manor part of the Queen's dower was followed when Edward IV married Elizabeth Gray. The confirmation in the last case was some years after marriage, and took place in 1468. In 1477, by an exchange, this part of the Manor of Deddington became vested in the de la Pole family, but Edmund de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, conveyed his interest to Henry VII, and the Manor again became vested in the king. The revenues are paid into the Privy Purse as part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The following extract from the Drapers Hall, Coventry, Muniment Room, (1345), the 18th year of Edward the third's reign) has reference to a queen, Isabella, the king's mother, though the endowment is in respect of another Manor, that of Cheylesmore, near Coventry. The point of interest to us is that it is witnessed among others, by Robertus de Dadyngton "Cancellario meo", (my chancellor).

The Manor of Windsor comprises the Rectorial Estate. By its assignment in 1351, by William de Bohun, patron of our Church, to "the free chapel of St. George the Martyr, situate in the castle of Windsor," (later so designated in the section of an Act of the first of Edward VI protecting it), the integrity of the property was assured and remains to this day.

But more than the patron's act was required, the concurrence of the Pope, the licence of the Crown, and the consent of the bishop (then Lincoln) were necessary. The appropriation of the church to the royal chapel was finally authorized by a Bull obtained from Pope Clement VI which is duly entered at the date of the ordination of the Vicarage, 1352-3, in the register of the then Bishop of Lincoln. By this appropriation the Dean and Canons of Windsor are enabled to sever the tithes from the incumbency. At first this took place without a fixed stipend for the vicar, but this evil was done away with by the passing of the Acts of the fifteenth of Richard II and the fourth of Henry IV and an independent position in the parish and fixed remuneration secured. The Dean and Canons of Windsor have accordingly for the past close on 600 years appointed our vicars.

The Manor of Christ Church, being the interest possessed by the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, in the third portion of our Manorial distribution, was formerly the estate belonging to the Priory of Bicester. This was originally the donation of Philip Basset, whose uncle, Gilbert Basset, had founded the Priory—the gift is recognised in the abstract of the earlier Rolls of the Hundreds in 1272, as one-third part of this Manor. By an Act (1536) of Henry VIII dissolving all religious bodies with revenues less than £200 per annum, the Priory of Bicester coming under this category, it was granted to Sir Thomas Pope by the king, as 'the Manor of Deddington, late of the monastery of Bicester.' In 1545, it was again in the possession of the king, having been purchased by him of our illustrious Sir Thomas, who rose to such great eminence under that monarch. Subsequently it was conveyed to the Cathedral of Christ Church, as "the Manor of Deddington, late of Sir Thomas Pope, in the king's hand by purchase.'

The legal estate of both Windsor and Christ Church Manors has become vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales.

New College, Oxford, were once landlords in a small way in Hempton. The Warden of New College (1879) gave Mr. Marshall an account of that College's property in Hempton, which used to consist of about 50 acres. This has now been exchanged for lands elsewhere with the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church.


Save the captivity of Piers Gaveston, favourite of Edward II, within its walls prior to his execution at Warwick, 1312, no event is recorded which relieves the obscurity in which Deddington Castle is wrapped.

Some names occur in its first mentions, which relate to the early owners of the soil here after the conquest, and to the founder of the Priory of Bicester. 'In 1204' (the fifth of King John), we read in Marshall's Notes, 'Guy de Dyve had seisin (in the nature of a freehold) of Deddington from the king, with the exception of the Castle, which the king retained in his own hands.

In the following year, however.........Thomas Basset was directed to deliver the Castle to him (Guy de Dyve) with all the lands of which he had been disseised. Thomas Basset had granted the Manor to his daughter Alice, on her marriage with Walter Malet, Baron of Cury.'

On account of his espousing the cause of the barons against King John, it was forfeited in 1215, the year of Magna Charta, and reverted to the king. 'Upon this', continues Mr. Marshall, 'it was regranted to Thomas Basset, but some interest appears to have remained with his daughter, for in 1229 she conveyed a portion of the land held by her in Deddington to her nephew Gilbert, the son of her brother Alan.

In the following year, the lands of Warine Fitzgerold, in consequence of a similar forfeiture, were granted to Robert Mauduit and Alan de Bocland, who in the year had obtained the Castle and certain land from Guy de Dyve.'

Mr. Marshall's investigations revealed a shuttlecock history of the Castle during the earlier quarter of the thirteenth century as it passed to and fro between its different owners. Dr. Plot, writing in 1676, says that he meets with nothing concerning it till the reign of Edward II. But Kennet found earlier mention that 'the Manor of Deddington had in the tenth of Richard I (1199, the last of his reign) a Castle fortified in it, which soon after belonged to Wida de Diva, whose possessions King John seized, and in the sixth of his reign sent a precept to the Sheriff of Oxfordshire to restore without delay all his lands and chattels, except the Castle of Deddington which the King would keep in his own hands.' The de Dyve family had a long connection with Deddington, the relation ceasing about 1327-8. (Marshall's Notes).

Brewer, the historian, describing the building from personal observation of its still traceable extent writes :—'Deddington possessed a Castle, which from the amplitude of its site was probably a structure of much strength and consequence. No part of the building is now remaining. A wide fosse went completely round and is still distinctly marked through its whole progress, though in some places overgrown......Some persons were digging for building materials at the eastern end of the area......and it appears that the walls in this direction were about six foot thick and had an outward and inner casing of very good stone, the space between being filled with sand and rubble stone. The whole area perhaps comprehended six acres.'

The period of erection cannot be ascertained, but tradition connects it with the Saxon Heptarchy, even surmising it may have belonged to King Alfred's daughter, Ethelfled, 'the Lady of Mercia' (Mercia was the midland kingdom) who was famed as a Castle builder. To give further colour to this theory of Saxon origin, it may be here related than Mr. Duffel Faulkner, the Deddington antiquarian, discovered a coin of the still earlier Offa in the foundations within the grounds.

Piers Gaveston's imprisonment could hardly have been elsewhere than in the Castle, for most certainly he stopped with his captors in this town on that fatal journey to Warwick. Remarking that 'as he has a place in history' only this single incident connecting him with Deddington need be described, Mr. Marshall recalls that having been twice banished the realm, Gaveston re-appeared in 1312, when the opposition to his favourite caused Edward II to place him for security in Scarborough. 'This was besieged by the Earls of Surrey and Pembroke, and Gaveston was forced to surrender, though with a promise of safety, which had been exacted from the Earl of Pembroke by the king. On this condition he was conducted by the earl on the way to his castle at Wallingford, and what followed may be told in the words of a writer from the north of Oxfordshire, Geoffrey le Baker, of Swinbrook......'

"But envy, a principal temptation to fidelity, and a desire to gratify the enemies of Peter (Piers), seduced his custodian, in spite of his oath, into a neglect of vigilance ; and so at last, however much against his will, Peter was brought within the power of his enemies by means of an unfriendly companion. He is taken, that is to say to Dathintone Manor, a place between Oxford and Warwick, where no natural hiding place, nor any castle or stronghold made by art, could conceal him from the near presence of the Earl of Warwick. The Earl of Pembroke retired from Peter by night, and at early dawn the Earl of Warwick arrived with a small number of attendants and with hue and cry. He carried Peter to Warwick Castle......'

Gaveston was beheaded on June 19th, 1312, at a short distance from the castle of Warwick at Blacklow Hill, where a monument marks the exact place of execution. It is said that he had offended the swarthy Earl of Warwick by calling him the "Black Dog,', and that the earl had retorted "the witch's son should feel the black dog's teeth." The captive, as an additional humiliation, is reputed to have been made to ride a mule when setting forth from Deddington Castle at dawn.

The Castle is situate in Windsor Manor and is supposed to have been demolished before the reign of Henry the eighth.

After the Piers Gaveston incident, until the Civil Wars, no high light of history touches our past. Only the records show how manors and lands changed hands, with here and there details of tolls and tithes and rents of mills and farms—smaller transactions between inhabitants striking sometimes a note more intimate. Or there are reprimands and penalties administered by magisterial authority, revealing delinquencies and unfortunate domesticities. Such is the note following, taken from the Calendar of Close Rolls, 5th year of Edward III (1331).

Feb. 2. Langley. 'Peter Perpount acknowledges that he owes to William de Newport Parson of the Church of Dadyngton 160 1. ; to be levied, in default of payment, of his lands and chattels in Co. Essex.'

Or this, published in the report for 1930 of the Oxfordshire Archaeological Society, headed 'Deddington' and heard in the Church there, 9th October, 1540.

'Thomas Barton had a child by Joan Ellys, now dead ; and at the time of her death she said that he was the father of the child. On 11 October he appeared at Chippingnorton and denied it. The judge appointed that he should purge himself with three of his neighbours in the church of St. Martin the next Wednesday. Afterwards he confessed the charge and submitted himself to correction. The judge bid him head the procession on two Sundays with a candle, etc'

Another paragraph from the same source—'James Brooke has frequented and still frequents the company of the wife of Richard Perkins, in spite of many monitions from his neighbours, etc.,' is quoted in full in part II of the chapter on 'Deddington Folk', as the name of Richard Stilgoe, whom he produced with Thomas Brown at Chippingnorton 'when he took oath (Oct. 11th., 1540) and purged himself,' is the earliest mention hereabouts of a family (the Stilgoes) later and continuously for more than three and a half centuries closely identified with the fortunes of Deddington.

It is noteworthy that the appearance of delinquents in Deddington Church, as head of the Deanery, was followed at an interval of two days by their appearance before the judge at Chipping Norton.

Deddington for a short time enjoyed the privilege of sending two members to Parliament. Here is the note on the subject by the Rev. E. Marshall.

'The burgesses of Deddington were summoned to Parliament by writ in the 30th year of Edward I, 1302, and in the year 32-3, 1304-5. In the former instance the members returned were Robert de Elseffield and Henry Durnall ; and in the latter, John Tankrevy and William Gyllot. There does not appear to be any record of an earlier nor of a later representation, and after this date the borough was disused.'

Looking back we shall not be far wrong in imagining the Deddingtonians of those days accepting as a matter of course their lot of rough toil and hardship—made hardy by it where fair play allowed them to benefit by good harvests. And for gaiety, behold, holy church ever following fast with feast, each season having its own plays and pageants. Failure of crops meant famine, unless extraordinary precautions were observed ; then it meant a scarcity that wore the populace to skin and bone. Transition in industry or agriculture is ever fraught with difficulties for those practising them. Even a change for good is resented for this reason. The coming of England's wool supremacy was an agony to those whose sole vision of plenty lay in golden grain.

The following passage from John Buchan's novel 'the Blanket of the Dark' brings this vividly home. Deddington readers, by the way, will notice that the Oxford writer gives his hero, Peter Bohun, a surname familiar in our annals, William de Bohun having (as already stated) presented the advowson of our parish church to St. George's, Windsor, in January 1351.

Peter Bohun is looking at 'a great wool convoy coming towards him from the Cherwell. He watched the laden horses struggle up the slope, eleven of them, each like a monstrous slug buried in its wool pack......Peter viewed the convoy with no

friendly eye. The wool barons were, devouring the country side and ousting the peasants. Up in Cotswold the Crevels and Celys and Midwinters might spend their wealth in setting up proud churches, but God would not be bribed.'

By Elizabeth no more raw wool was allowed to be exported, and in consequence the looms of Banbury got busy, a few shuttles flying even in Deddington ; England famous for wool also became famous for cloth. The weavers of Banbury, noted for fanatical piety, are lampooned as 'hanging a cat on a Monday for killing a mouse on a Sunday.' That neighbouring town was industrial centre and storm centre too. Some of the products of its extremist opinions came this way in 1649, when a party of Levellers quartered themselves in Deddington. As the name implies they sought to level all ranks—not a new idea then or now.

Banbury also sent us a noted Puritan Divine, the Rev. Samuel Wells, inducted as its Vicar by order of the House of Lords on September 13th, 1648, but banished under the Five Mile Act at the Restoration, having refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. He abode at Deddington as being outside the prescribed area.

The Civil War raged fiercely round Deddington which was one of the outposts of a region made famous by battles. It was after the battle of Cropredy Bridge that Charles I slept here ; he 'lay at the Parsonage house'—of which event more later. An engagement serious enough to be called the battle of Deddington took place in 1643. But by this period the registers of the parish church, available from 1631, are to hand ; beside usual entries of baptisms, marriages and burials, they throw many an interesting sidelight on the history of the times. The written word is, however, a part only of that national book which lies open for reading, sermons in all its stones—an old English parochial church.