Wytham Village's History

The Estate Survey of 1726 shows the Wytham village in considerable detail. Apart from the brick cottages, most of the present houses are there, and a few more are drawn which have now been pulled down. A sign shows an Inn on the site of the White Hart. A rival ‘house’ existed across the road where Linch Farm cowshed yard now is. This farm and Overford Farm appear, and also the Home Farm in ‘Dove House Yard’ with its dovecote in the centre (built in the early seventeenth century). The Rectory has a farm yard in the south-east corner of its ground. The Rector had a barn and a stable and there is a haystack to be seen in one corner of his yard. The Rectory house is shown much in its present form. (The house existed in 1634, was extended about 1705 and modernised about 1870.) The roads in the Village were slightly altered by the Earl about 1810, especially at the south end where he made his new drive and gateway; but otherwise the plan of the village is much the same now as in 1726. Obvious extra buildings are the school, founded in 1858, and the Village Hall, built in the late 1920s by Col. ffennell. One other change is the disappearance of a road which ran near Seacourt stream past Rose Cottage (No. 15), along the back of Linch Farm, through the garden of Broadis Cottage (No. 6), along the side of Overford Farm house (which had its ‘front door’ on this road) and continued as far as Jasmine Cottage (No. 1).

In recent years the University of Oxford, as landowner, has been modernising the cottages, and a fair amount of reconstruction has been involved. At Jasmine Cottage a Charles II farthing was found under the doorstep, and another farthing was found in a similar position at No. 22. The 1670s may well have been one of the periods of building and improvement in the village. At No. 22 some worn silver shillings were found also, and they and the farthing from this house are now in the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
The land shown in the Estate Survey is cut up into strips, much as it had been in the Middle Ages, so many for each person, in the three large arable fields which were called ‘Upfield', 'Homefield' and 'Northfield'. The Home Farm had some fair-sized fields, including those still called 'The Dunsteads'. There is Glebeland for the Rectory and some 'Closes' or small private pasture fields used by people with larger holdings of strips. The villagers had common pasture, and an allotment of strips in the watermeadows in the north-east of the parish, which they presumably used for hay. This pattern was changed in 1814 when the Earl enclosed the land and fields were attached to the various farms. He set up a new farm at Northfield, near the northern end of the loop of the Thames in which the parish lies. This farm was taken by the University for use as a Field Station for research in Agriculture, and in 1951-2 a group of cottages were built there, forming a small community. This was in fact not a new thing: from the eleventh century to the fifteenth there was a house or group of houses there called 'Calamondesplace' from the Calamund family who first held the land of the Abbot of Abingdon. From 1343 there was a private chapel attached to this house, which still existed in the reign of Edward VI. The site of the house is not known. It was probably between Northfield Farm and the Mill. Foundations in this area were said to have been 'turned up by the plough' in the late eighteenth century.

The southern end of the modem parish of Wytham was marked by Seacourt Farm on the Botley Road, until the house and buildings were pulled down in 1964 to make way for a garage. This farm preserved the name of the ancient village of Seacourt, or Seckworth. The site of the village was in fact about a mile to the north on the eastern side of the by-pass. A settlement existed there in the tenth century and was later expanded into a village with church, manor house and some stone houses. For reasons which are not known the village declined in the second half of the fourteenth century, and by 1439 there was nothing left except the church and two houses. The manor, and later the parish, were joined to Wytham. The site of the village was excavated before the building of the by-pass in 1958, and there is an account of the excavation in Oxoniensia, XXVI-XXVII. 1961-2 (Oxoniensia is the journal of Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society) was.

[Text taken from "The Parish Of Wytham" by Margaret Sparks, written and sold for the benefit of Wytham Church]