Page 3 - Moreton Village Only Book
P. 3

Moreton Village Only 3 3
                                                                                        Moreton Village Only
                                                          In the Beginning …

                             HE ORIGINS OF MORETON are lost in the mists of time. Purely anecdotal evidence
                             suggests the finding of prehistoric arrow heads and Saxon coins near the Cuttle Brook
                        T (with 20th century metal detecting equipment) but we have not been able to find any
                        record of Moreton before the end of the first millennium.
                           Known as “Attington & Moreton” until as late as Tudor times – the medieval village of
                        Attington (the Saxon name being “Eatta’s Hill”) was thought to lie somewhere between
                        Moreton and Tetsworth, but all traces of it have long since vanished. Moreton, unlike many
                        better-known Oxfordshire communities, such as Minster Lovell and Aston Rowant, does
                        not even rate a mention in the Domesday Book which was completed in 1086. It is nonetheless
                        thought that Moreton was, at least, a Saxon settlement.
                           The name “Moreton” is derived from the Saxon “Mor’tun” meaning low-lying or marshy
                        ground, which in some respects, Moreton remains today. Always a hamlet and never a fully-
                        fledged village, Moreton remains one of the few places in England to have neither a manor
                        house nor a church and the early history, and ownership, of Moreton go a long way towards
                        explaining this. The “lords of the manor” of Moreton were absentee landlords who always
                        lived somewhere else and therefore had no need of a house or a church in Moreton.

                           From earliest times Moreton stood at a cross-roads – the road from Aylesbury to Tetsworth
                        passed through Moreton and the importance of this is evident from the earliest English road
                        map of c.1360 (detail shown overleaf) where three of the towns mentioned are “Tame”,
                        “Worth” and “Walynford”.

                           Tetsworth was on the “London Road” (from Oxford) and Moreton may therefore have
                        been of some geographic or financial importance – perhaps for the collection of tolls from
                        travellers – which would go part of the way to explaining why it has “changed hands” so
                        many times. Certainly it is known that the needle makers of Long Crendon in the 17th and
                        18th centuries passed through Moreton to collect their bodyguards to protect them against
                        footpads and highwaymen on their journey to London to sell their wares.

                           At the beginning of a new millennium, when people own or rent their homes and “an
                        Englishman’s home is his castle”, it is difficult to imagine a time when the land – and the
                        people, their homes, their livestock and their produce – were owned by a feudal lord, high
                        ranking priest or religious community and where whole villages could change hands through
                        marriage, money, influence and local in-fighting. In the Middle Ages, the major landowners
                        were the King, his Lords and the Church. Communities like Moreton, which were usually
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8