Chapter III Chapter V


Chapter IV.

Manor of Souldern.*

About 1066 (William the Conqueror) ― de Sai, whose name appears on the roll of Battle Abbey, seems to have obtained a grant of the Manor of Sulethorm. In 1261 (Henry III., 1216―1272) or much earlier Philip Bassett† sold the said Manor to Ralph de Bray, for 40 marks of silver (See Skelton's Antiquities of Oxfordshire, Ploughley Hundred, p. 7). In the reign of Edward I. (1272 –1306). “Thomas de Lewknore‡ holds the Manor of Sulthorne, of Thomas de Arderne, by the service of £1 yearly, and the said Thomas holds, from the heirs of de Say, and it is a Manor free in itself, and has a view of frank pledges; from the first conquest of England, and the bailiffs of our lord the king have no entrance unless by briefs of our lord the king. And it is an ancient warren from the first conquest of England. And the vicar of Oxford has 4s. yearly from the time of John de Tywe, formerly vicar of Oxford, who levied these 4s. unjustly. And it has a highway from the conquest aforesaid. And he holds in his lordship three currucates‖ of land, and the meadow and pasture adjoining. And he has there a free fishery from the head of his meadow of Goldenham as far as the meadow of Fretewelle. And the said lord of Sulthorne, if he wished, or his attorney, shall come to the two great Hundred Courts (?) yearly from Sulthorne. And by this they shall be free and at liberty to withdraw without amercement or fine. And this freedom has been in use from the aforesaid conquest.” (See Cal. Rolls of Ed. II.) It appears from the “Inuisitiones” of Ed. I., II., and III., that Thomas e Abbresbury, William de Tyngewyk, John de Abberbury, and Richard de Abberbury, were freeholders in this parish. They probably held by knights service for the Prior of Donyngton. In 1357, in a patent of the 31st Ed. III, there occurs the following notice – “About the Hamlet of Foresmere, belonging to Roger de Cottesford, and about the enclosed road between Cottesford and Sulthorn, and about a licence to enclose the said hamlet.” In the reign of Richard II. (1377–1399) Richard de Abberbury held lands in Sulthorn. In the “Inquisitiones” of Henry VI. (1422–61) “William, Duke of Suffolk, held in the county of Oxford, land in Thorp, Cudlynton, Sulthorne, and Hannewell, in the Honour of Wallingford.” From Napier's “History of Swincombe and Ewelme’ (1858) we find that after the murder of the said Duke, Alice, his widow (grand­daughter of Geoffrey Chaucer) was seized of the said lands. After this date we can discover nothing more about the manor until the reign of Elizabeth (1558–1603). and there is the following notice in White Kennett—“Sir Hugh Throckmorton instituted Lawrance Giles to the living of Sulthorne,” and elsewhere—“The Right Honble. H. Compton, Sir John Arundel, John Dormer, and Paul Tracy were seized of the Manor of Souldren, anciently Sulthorne, in the right of their wives.” About the beginning of the reign of James I, (1603–26) the above-mentioned persons parted with the manor to the Weedon family (see copy deed in the possession of Mr. Crook). Souldern appears to have escaped injury during the great civil war and we can only find the place mentioned twice in any local history of that period. First there is “an order for carts to Oxord for the king, from Fritwell and Soulderne” (counter­manded), and secondly the minister of Soulderne joined with others in the neighbour­hood in petitioning Parliament to spare Charles I. (see Beesley’s “History of Banbury”). During the Commonwealth (1649-60) “At the court leet held at Soulderne (1652) at the Manor House of John Weedon, John Dodwell is chosen constable in the place of Robert Bigmell.” Among the jurors for the keepers of the liberties of England, by authority of Parliament and also for the above-named lord of the said manor are named John Dodwell (the younger), Thomas Dodwell, John Dodwell, William Dodwell, and Ferdinando Gough. In another documeut, (of the reign of William III., 1689-1702) it appears that Thomas Dodwell sold a messuage house somewhere about the year 1693. John Weedom died in 1710, and left his manor and estate to Samuel Cox (then a child), the eldest son of Samuel Cox and Alicia Kilby, his wife, subject to the payment of annuities to his brothers William and Thoulas, his uncle Bernard, his sister Mary, and his brother-in-law Charles Howes. The house and furniture he left to his widow. The will was proved 9th July, 1712. Samuel Cox, executor. There is, or ought to be, a sketch of the old Manor House of the Weedons, in a deed in the church chest. It stood in a field (close to the church) now the property of Mr. J. R. Crook. For the following description of Souldern House, and the Roman Catholic chapel appertaining thereto, we are indebted to George Dolinan, Esq: “The present Manor House, the property of Col. Cox, stands at the western extremity of the village, on the brow of the hill commanding an extensive view of the Cherwell walley, which stretches for many miles north and south, with the massive tower of Deddington Church rising boldly in the central landscape. A group of lofty elms forum a conspicuous landmark, and some forty or fifty years ago these were part of a stately avenue up to the house. The precise age of the house itself appears to be unknown, but some clue is afforded by the figure 1665, cut into the stonework of the window of a room known as the “old vestry.” It is, however, certain that before the close of the 17th century it was in the possession of Richard Kilby, Esq., who had married as his second wife Alice Reynolds, a lady of an old Catholic family, seated at Cassington. Besides a son Robert, he had by this wife three daughters, Alice, Mary, and Jane, of whom the first-men­tioned became the wife of Samuel Cox, Esq., of Farmingham Lodge, Kent. Richard Kilby died 11th September, 1693, in the 84th year of his age, and was buried in the church of Souldern. In his will, after disposing of his other property and effects, he bequeaths as heirlooms to his son, his two pots or vases, which now stand on the lawn in front of the house, and the stone table, of which there is no trace. (Since writing the above this stone table has (1881) been discovered and reclaimed by Mr. Stanton, and stands near the companion pots and vases.) The said Richard Kilby was succeeded by his only son Robert, who married his cousin, Alicia Kilby, but had no issue. He died 12th March, 1757, and was also interred in the Parish Church. By his will his estates were left to his nephew Samuel, eldest son of Samuel Cox, of Farningham. This Samuel Cox, who never married, made Souldern House his residence from this time up to his death in 1781. He died at a good old age and was buried in the church. His nephew, Robert Kilby Cox, oldest son of Gabriel Cox, Esq., of Highgate, succeeded him in the manor, and during his life many changes were made in the house. The old mullioned windows were replaced by sash windows of the modern fashion, and a cupola which formerly stood above the western entrance was renoved. As neither he nor his son lived permanently at Souldern, the house was let to various tenants, who succeeded each other, as far as we can ascertain, in the following order:—

I.—Mr. Porter, agent of the Cox and Fermor families.

II.—William Willan, Esq., whose wife dying here in 1805, he shortly left the neighbourhood.

III.—The Comte de Marolles, a French gentleman, who is said to have been related to Bonaparte. He returned to his native country after the peace of 1814.

IV.—Capt. Richard Fermor, a younger brother of William Fermor, Esq., of Tusmore. He died at Souldern House in 1817.

V.—James Rousby, Esq., whose son, Edwards Rousby, was born here, 1819.

VI.—John Hill, Esq., father of the present Mr. Hill, of Souldern. He lived at the Manor House from 1830 till his death, in May, 1835.

VII.—Mr. John Scott, brother-in-law of the late Mr. Hurlstone, occupied the house until 1846.

In Aug., 1851, the present owner, Col. Cox, succeeded to the estate, on the death of his cousin, Samuel Cox, Esq., of Broxwood, and, in June of the follow­ing year, his brother in-law, the late John Thomas Dolman, Esq., M.D., of Pocklington, Yorkshire, came to reside at Souldern. He had married, 1835, Anne Helen, fourth daughter of the late Samuel Cox, Esq., M.D., of Eaton Bishop, Hertfordshire. Dr. Dolman died in 1867, and his son-in-law, the Honble. Bryan Stapleton, lived here from 1868 until 1877, when he left and was succeeded by Frederick Stanton, Esq.

* The greater part of the early history of the manor is extracted from White Kennett's Parochial Antiquities

† For further particulars of the Bassett family, see pedigrees.

‡: It appears that Thomas de Lewknore married Lucie, heiress of Thomas de Arderne, who inherited from the de Says, She is said to “hold the whole township of Suthorn, in frank marriage.”

§ “Frank pledge.” A pledge for the good conduct of freemen, should a crime he committed in a tything the “head borough” had to answer for the production of the criminal. In towns this system was worked by guilds.

‖ A carucate is as much land as one plough with its beasts would cultivate in a year, and was the Norman measure, with a view to assessment.

Roman Catholic Chapel.

It is an interesting matter for speculation whether the practice of the ancient Catholic faith has ever quite died out in Souldern. The materials for such an enquiry are, however, very incomplete, as the earliest information is obtained from the parish register, which commences 1567. A clue to the number of Roman Catholics in the village in those days is assorded by the frequent occurrence of the formula, “Secundum rituo Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ” in the list of burials. These worls clearly imply that the persons whose names are thus distinguished were, owing to the peculiar circumstances of the time, buried according to the rites of the Church of England, although in life they had not been mem­bers of that church. And if it were still doubtful to which religious communion they belonged, the occasional addition of the word papista effectually removes any hesitation. Among the names of Souldern Roman Catholics at that period those of Weedon and Kilby occupy a prominent place, and presumably of a humbler class appear the Ansteys, Horns, and Lessingtons, names which have now disappeared entirely from the roll of Souldern parishioners. From these facts it is clear that about the middle of the 17th century, a certain number of Catholic families were living in the village, and not­with&sh;stand­ing the penal laws to the contrary, heard mass celebrated in one or more private houses. Whether a domestic chapel existed in the Manor House of the Weedons before referred to, is not known, but there is no doubt that in the present house a chapel was in constant use from an early period, and this interesting relic of an ancient time, remained in its primitive con­dition until a very recent date. The old chapel at Souldern was merely a room in the upper part of the house, measuring about 30ft. in length. A portion of this room (about a third of the whole) was divided from the rest of the apartment by a wooden screen, and the part thus separated formed the sanctuary. An altar and communion railings, also of wood completed the furniture, and a door on the N.W. corner led into an adjoin­ing room, which served as a vestry. This apartment con­tinued to be used until 1781, when, on the death of Mr. Samuel Cox, it was permanently closed, and the vessels and vestments removed to a place of safety. Before quitting this portion of the subject, it should be mentioned that in 1877 a secret chamber, probably a priest's hiding hole, was dis­covered, which formed a com­munica­tion between the chapel and the room below. It was fastened on the inside by means of a sliding bolt. It does not appear that any regular chaplain lived at Souldern from the Reform­ation till the last-mentioned date. Probably the mission was served by the priest who resided at Tusmore, where, in the house of the Fermors, there was also a domestic chapel, which existed up to 1810. When that was closed another was opened at the old Manor House at Hardwick, and the Rev. Alfred Maguire collected funds with which he built the present church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe. When Dr. Dolinan came to Souldern in 1852, it was de­cided that a chapel should be opened in the village, the old room having fallen into a state of complete decay. An apartment situated in the south wing of the house was therefore set apart for the purpose. The old vestments being much worn, and besides of an obsolete pattern, a new set was obtained in close accordance with medieval design, and the furniture for the altar was also provided. In the summer of 1869 Mrs. Dulman conceived the design of building a small chapel to the memory of her husband. The foundations were laid in the grounds and the work was completed in 1870. On the 2nd February this building was opened by the Very Rev. Canon O'Sullivan, Vicar General of the Diocese, and placed under the patronage of St. Joseph. The new chapel, though unpretending, is quite ecclesiastical in its main features, and the open timber roof and plain lancet windows have a pleasing effect. There is a representation in stained glass above the altar, of our LORD'S resurrection. The altar rails are those belonging to the original chapel. The priests connected with Souldern House are as follows:—

The Rev. Samuel Corbishley

Rev Alfred Maguire

Rev. Joseph Robson

Rev. Hugh McCarten

Rev. Fred. Morris

Rev. Samuel Glossop

A well built school has been erected close to the chapel, upon a site given by Col. Cox, and there is a resident school mistress.

Chapter III Chapter V