Page 5 - Moreton Village Only Book
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Moreton Village Only 5 5
                                                                                        Moreton Village Only

                        thatched roofs were being built and there were
                        many more of them then than remain today.
                        In the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, Moreton
                        may well have been becoming a prosperous
                        little agricultural community, laying the foun-
                        dations for what it is today.

                           Our story moves to the English Civil War
                        (1642-1649), Cavaliers and Roundheads and
                        very little mention of Moreton! Despite the
                        hamlet’s close proximity to Oxford which
                        played a central part in the Civil War and was
                        King Charles I’s base until the fall of Oxford
                        in 1646, the only claim to fame for Moreton
                        is that John Hampden, who was fatally
                        wounded at the battle of Chalgrove Field in
                        1643, “passed through Moreton” on his way
                        to die in Thame. John Hampden was a
                        Buckinghamshire MP who became a Colonel
                        in the  Parliamentarian army and he is
                        Moreton’s only recorded link to the Civil War.
                        We would like to claim that Prince Rupert of
                        the Rhine and Oliver Cromwell stopped by
                        the Royal Oak for a pint, but we can’t! What
                        we can claim is that the Royal Oak, in common
                        with so many pubs in England, was very
                        probably named after the oak tree in which
                        Prince Charles (later Charles II) hid after the
                        battle of Worcester in 1651 before he fled to
                        France, only to return to England at the
                        Reformation in 1660.

                           The Civil War was a turning point in English history but little is recorded about what may
                        have happened in Moreton in the following years. Moreton’s only recorded famous resident,
                        William Basse of Moreton, the poet and retainer of Sir Richard Wenman, died in 1653. Unlike
                        other small English villages no manor house was built and no church was established. At that
                        time there was no school and there are no records of any shops. It is likely that Moreton
                        remained an essentially agricultural community with the skilled artisans and merchants
                        staying in the more prosperous town of Thame (only two miles distant and well within
                        walking distance as it is today) although the young farm labourers of Moreton may well have
                        earned some pocket money by acting as bodyguards to the needle makers of Long Crendon.

                           Even into the 1700’s, there is little evidence today of “Georgian houses” in Moreton
                        – as a small, agrarian hamlet it would not have been the type of place for a merchant or
                        craftsman to build his house – there would have been more opportunity for them to
                        display wealth and taste in the increasingly prosperous town of Thame with its proximity
                        to the home of the Wenman’s at Thame Park. Although the course of the roads (or,
                        more likely, cart tracks in those days) were changed to nearer to the ones that we have
                        today, Moreton probably remained what it had always been – tenanted with no landowners
                        or property owners living in the hamlet; tending its land and its livestock; growing its
                        crops and paying its rents to the Wenmans at Thame Park and to the Earl of Abingdon
                        who had succeeded to the ownership of Moreton two hundred years before. Moreton
                        did have one new building – its own “pest house” (isolation hospital), now The White
                        House situated in Moreton Lane, similar to the one in Thame.

                           Absentee ownership by the Bishop of Lincoln and Norman and medieval knights
                        followed by the Tudor nobles and their descendants who held land in Moreton purely as
                        a small part of the huge estates that they had gained following Henry VIII’s dissolution
                        of the monasteries resulted in Moreton being constrained in its growth. This situation
                        continued under a series of landlords through marriage and inheritance and it would
                        not be until well into the 19th century that a school would be built and a Methodist
                        chapel erected and only in the early 20th century that some of the properties in Moreton
                        would move from being tenanted to ownership.
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