History Continues...

Middle Ages 1150 -1485 continued...

A brass in the South aisle, known as the Lenthall aisle, commemorates one of this family.

At Little Haseley in the 15th Century the Barrentyne family had what was described as a 'fair mansion and marvellous fair walks with orchards, pools and topiary' (clipped yew hedges in the form of birds or cutting in the form of chess men as one can see now at the Court is mentioned about 1580). The stone effigy by the font may be of one of this family, though one authority claims it as that of William de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who died about 1220. The gloves and tilting helmet in the North aisle certainly belonged to one of the Barrentyne family and the altar tomb at the East end of the North aisle is theirs.

The Barrentynes had about 50 people working on their land, of four kinds: Freemen, who paid rent for their land in money or services e.g: one Maltida Tyrell had to cart hay and wood for the lord of the manor six days in the year and was entitled to meals in the house on those days. Others had to do a week's ploughing on the lord's land with their own oxen, or to give geese, capons, honey etc., at certain times: villeins, cottars or cottagers, and serfs, were bound to the land and had to work for the lord when he required, e.g. Walter of the Beard, villein of Haseley, held a cottage and ten acres, but had to help plough, cart hay and do threshing on the estate 'at his lord's will'. Villeins had strips in various places, some up by the windmill, others in the Grove or along Back Lane, others in Little Haseley. Lots were drawn each year to decide which strips were to go to which man. Pictures were drawn on the strips to show to whom they were allotted, as most people could not read. (Mr Leach had an old map showing the position of strips). Land raised into a sort of bank where the plough turned at the end of strips was known as the 'baulk'. This is still to be seen below the windmill and in the Grove. The hayfield of the parish was near Haseley Court ,and the common land, where people could graze animals was here also. A record of 1380 tells of a quarrel when a man in Warpsgrove brought his geese on to Haseley Common and in the evening drove off a number of geese belonging to Haseley folk, and in 1460 another record tells of someone. stealing part of the Rector's harvest. The thief had to give the Rector three times as much barley as he had stolen.

On the way to the 'Pigeons' were the Butts (now often called Bittsey Bottom) where all able-bodied men had to practise shooting with bow and arrow in case they were needed to fight, and every year the Sheriff of the County came to inspect their marksmanship.

By the 1400's the Parslers (Mrs Lovell and Mrs Payne were Parslers), The Allens, slaymakers and the Shrimptons were settled families in Haseley.

During the Middle Ages the Church, of course, played an important part in the life of the village. And Haseley church is remarkable in that it shows an almost complete succession of architectural styles from the 12th to the 16th Century.

The South doorway is considered to belong to the 11th Century, the West doorway is a fine specimen of the Early English period, date about 1200, with three concentric arches, the outermost one decorated with dog tooth ornament. The tower dates from about 1300: the four main arches of the nave are Norman in character, but are thought to date also from about 1200, and the arches between the naive and chancel from slightly later.

The chancel windows are 14th century and the masonry of the East Window, damaged recently by lightning, is considered to be the finest in Oxfordshire.

Notice, too, the long slits in the arches between the nave and chancel, to allow the congregation sitting on stone seats along the side of the nave or in the chantries, to see what was going on at the High Altar. N.B. Most of the congregation stood. I understand the transparent sort of window is made of horn.

And to finish with the Middle Ages - a ghost story. One of the rectors of the 14th Century is said to have murdered another clergyman during a drunken quarrel and to have buried him under the floor of the Rectory. The ghost of the murdered man is still supposed to haunt the surroundings of the Old Rectory.