Page 8 - Moreton Village Only Book
P. 8

8 Moreton Village Only

                           The Enclosure Acts were communicated to the public by the simple expedient of
                        nailing a notice to the church door although how they were communicated in Moreton,
                        where there was no church and therefore no door to nail them to, is not recorded! These
                        notices were often torn down by enraged freeholders who saw them as infringing their
                        very ancient land rights, until Commissioners were appointed to allocate land. This took
                        a very long time (it was not completed until 1832) and for one entire season (a significant
                        period in a small, totally agriculture-dependent community) no crops were sown and
                        people had to draw on their meagre savings to support their families.

                                                                 Eventually the allocations were com-
                                                              pleted, plots were fenced or hedged and crops
                                                              planted. Many plots were lost altogether and
                                                              when corn prices dropped (the Corn Laws
                                                              were not repealed until 12 years later in 1846)
                                                              the villagers planted turnips and other root
                                                              vegetables as animal feed instead. Corn prices
                                                              then increased – the rich with their vast
                                                              estates became richer and the poor with their
                                                              small tracts of land became poorer.

                                                                 For Moreton the important outcomes
                                                              of the Enclosure Acts were the awards of 532
                                                              acres to Miss Wykeham of Thame Park as
                        Jessmere and adjoining cottages – circa 1930’s.
                                                              Lord of the Manor, of which 3.5 acres were
                        for the churchwardens (although there was no church in Moreton) and 2.5 acres for “the
                        poor” and the enclosure of the village green – then at the western end of Moreton where the
                        road forks. Moreton took on much of the shape that we still see today.

                           The early part of the 19th century also saw an increase in building in Moreton, in what
                        appears to be the first “property building boom” since the late 1500’s/early 1600’s when
                        Willow Cottage (originally a barn and then converted into three cottages), Jessmere, Vine
                        Cottage, Elm Tree Farmhouse, Folly Cottage, Prospect Cottage, Moreton House, Field
                        Farm, The Old Bakery, Brook Cottage, Moreton Thatch and parts of Rose Cottage had all
                        been built. All of these properties are believed to have been at least two or three cottages at
                        one time – certainly Folly Cottage was two “one up-one down” cottages and The Old
                        Bakery was at least three cottages. Jessmere was (as our photograph shows) four cottages
                        before being completely reconstructed in 1934.

                           Most of Spencer Cottage is believed to date from the early 1800’s and The Old Bell
                        dates from about the same time. Both stand where the main road out of Thame to Tetsworth
                        ran through Moreton to meet the Oxford to London road before the “new road” following
                        the old Rycote Road (a medieval causeway) was constructed in the late 1700’s to link Aylesbury
                        and Wallingford by running through Haddenham and Thame.

                        Unofficial Census Form of 1839.
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