Nether Chalford medieval settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018427

Date first listed: 03-Nov-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998


Ordnance survey map of Nether Chalford medieval settlement
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Enstone

National Grid Reference: SP 34796 25205


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision. Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is in general dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads, mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

Nether Chalford is a good example of a nucleated medieval settlement within the South Midlands local region and is one of the best preserved sites of its type in Oxfordshire. It is unusual in forming one of a pair of villages, separated by the River Glyme, which had separate early histories, although they came under one ownership at a later date. Evidence provided by aerial photographs, archaeological survey, field observation and documentation indicates that Nether Chalford contains important and largely undisturbed archaeological remains relating to the development, occupation and economy of the village from its original establishment up to and beyond its final abandonment as a settlement. This evidence will not only provide an insight into the physical form and layout of the settlement itself but will also provide information on the number and occupations of its inhabitants and their wealth and tastes over time. Taken along with evidence from Over Chalford it will provide an insight into the economic and agricultural forces which led to villages such as these being abandoned in favour of other settlement sites within the region as a whole.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of Nether Chalford medieval settlement and its church which lie on the top of a north-facing valley slope to the south of the River Glyme. The settlement lies just south west of an ancient ford, opposite the remains of the medieval settlement of Over Chalford which is the subject of a separate scheduling. Nether Chalford medieval settlement is known from aerial photographs, archaeological surveys, historical documentation and limited field investigation. The settlement is aligned roughly north west to south east along a hollow way which forms a crossroads with a second hollow way roughly at the centre of the settlement. The remains of the church, last mentioned in 1412, lie south east of the crossroads at the village centre and stand out because, unlike the majority of the other smaller buildings, it is aligned east to west rather than north to south. The church was the largest building in the village, and to its north is an enclosure, known as a `croft' which contains some of the best preserved building platforms and is almost certainly the site of the manor house. Radiating out from this core are a number of further crofts which are divided by stone and earthen banks. They enclose areas ranging from approximately 25m square to over 60m across. These enclose at least nine sets of building platforms or `tofts', many of which are still visible at ground level. The tofts measure from 3m wide by 8m long up to 13m long by 8m wide. There were originally many other buildings constructed of wood which are no longer visible at ground level but which will survive as archaeological features buried below the present turf. From documentary evidence it is known that the manor was established (like that at Over Chalford to the north) by 1086, and that its economy seems to have depended mainly on animal grazing with arable and wooded land on higher ground to the south and away from the immediate area of settlement. In assessments of 1220 the land of the village was also recorded as primary pasture. Despite this preponderance of pasture land, the settlement also had a mill although the location of this is not known with any certainty. The earliest recorded inhabitant of the manor was Robert Maudut in 1242 and a number of subsequent occupants appear periodically in records until 1473 when Oriel College, Oxford obtained both Nether Chalford Manor and the neighbouring manor of Over Chalford (also known as Broadstone). They were subsequently leased together to Richard Croft, Lord of Chipping Norton Manor in 1480. In 1506 Thomas Haydock obtained the lease and in 1510 applied for and received permission to enclose all the arable land in the two settlements and to let the houses fall into ruin. By 1524 the Chalfords were not considered settled for tax purposes and subsequently the land was only ever leased as pasture. Subsequent settlement in the area was limited to small, dispersed farms and of these only one, Old Chalford Farm survives. Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire boundary fences, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30827

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1954), 300
PRN 947 - Note 5 references, SMRO, Nether Chalford, (1971)
PRN 947, SMRO, Nether Chalford, (1971)
Site meeting discussion, Lisk, S., Discussion with SMRO, (1997)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Source Date: 1982 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing