Page 7 - Moreton Village Only Book
P. 7

Moreton Village Only 7

                           Whereas up to the end of the 18th century very little has been recorded regarding
                        Moreton, as we enter the 19th century and go forward, we encounter a rich seam of
                        information regarding the hamlet and its inhabitants and where many “national events”
                        have an effect, in their own way, on Moreton.

                           In the early 1800’s, a troop of volunteer riflemen raised by Squire Wykeham of
                        Tythrop Manor practised on Sundays at Moreton Field Farm to be ready to give Napoleon
                        a warm welcome! The fact that Moreton Fields were some 130 miles from where
                        Napoleon would have landed at Dover shows the patriotic fervour exhibited by the
                        landowners of the time who wished to be seen to be “doing their bit”. Nearly one and a
                        half centuries later, during World War II, the lads of Moreton would go to the same
                        place (“The Butts”) to dig the lead out the
                        spent dum-dum bullets that had been used
                        for target practice. Who knows if they may
                        have found some old musket balls as well
                        as what was then modern ammunition.

                           At about the same time, Moreton’s
                        water (drawn from wells and springs) was
                        considered to be so good that the hamlet
                        became the centre of the local brewing
                        industry and this activity is frequently
                        recorded in reference to John North who,
                        around the 1860’s, was the blind landlord
                        of the Royal Oak and who brewed and
                        served his own beer. His beer was renowned
                        to be of such quality that the saying in
                        Thame at the time and well into the 20th  Brook Cottage – early 1900’s.
                        century was “go to Moreton and know the
                        rights of it”. It is sad to record as we enter
                        the 21st century that not only is beer no
                        longer brewed in Moreton but there is no
                        longer even a pub in which to serve it.

                           An important development for Moreton
                        was the Enclosure Acts of 1830. Prior to
                        1830, the land had been farmed on the
                        “open field system” (excluding the land
                        owned by the large estates such as Thame
                        Park). The land around villages was divided
                        into large fields which were then divided into
                        smaller plots which were shared out amongst
                        the villagers (the “freeholders”). Poorer
                        ground was used as common grazing land
                        with each freeholder being allowed to graze
                        a certain number of stock. The system,  Prospect Cottage – early 1900’s.
                        although it worked, was inconvenient as a
                        freeholder could have plots in several
                        different areas often a very long way apart
                        and in early spring of each year the cattle
                        and sheep had to be moved (or sold at
                        market) to allow the grass to grow for
                        mowing. If a freeholder had not stored his
                        hay into store by Lammas Day (1st August)
                        when the animals were returned to the
                        grazing land for the winter, then fodder
                        would have to be provided from other sources,
                        the land often being too poor to support
                        the stock throughout the winter. As the
                        1820 map of Thame Fields shows, some
                        land around Thame had already been
                        enclosed and all land was enclosed under
                        the Enclosure Acts of 1830.           Elm Tree Cottage – circa 1950.
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