FAMILY HISTORY INTEREST
THE HAMLET of CLEVELEY (or CLEVELY),
situated in in the Parish of ENSTONE, OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND
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The following is an extract from PAROCHIAL HISTORY OF ENSTONE
by Rev. J. Jordan
The Hamlet of CLEVELEY
Johnson, in his Dictionary, states that cleve, cliff, or clive, at the beginning or end of the proper name of a place denotes it to be situated on a rock or hill. He also says of the termination ley, that it is spelt indifferently ley, lee, or lay, being derived from the Saxon leag; a field. By this derivation Cleveley means the hill field, and this most appropriately describes the steep and even rocky declivities forming the site of Cleveley. At one part where the road, after crossing the stream on a narrow bridge, ascends the hill, it does so almost on the face of a cliff. The road thus referred to, after traversing the side of the cliff, crosses at an acute angle the ancient road from Enstone to Oxford, through Radford, Kiddington, &c., and thus these two roads bound and enclose between them a large triangular shaped grass field, which slopes down the side of the hill, having its base formed by the brook that skirts it. This field has signs remaining of terraces or garden walks and retains the name of Bissel's Close, the next adjoining field being called Bissel's Ground, but the registers do not supply the name of any such family resident here. Besides this property, denoting as it does the residence here of some family, there, are to be traced on all the hill sides around, proofs of the same kind of country houses with ornamented grounds about them, of which we have a already met with so many. Nor indeed is this to be wondered at here in Cleveley when it is considered that two of the principal highways of this vicinity passed through Cleveley. The ancient house attached to our charity lands, and still standing here, is constantly described in our old deeds as "abutting on the King's highway leading to Oxford". From Church Enstone this road commenced with a lane, now called Clingclang Lane, from having formerly had a gate that swung backwards and forwards with a clingclang noise, and crossing the Charlbury turnpike road, proceeded direct to Cleveley, near to which it is still to be found in its original narrow and enclosed state. Passing through Cleveley, and also for some short distance through the river there, it ascends the hill and takes it course for Radford, continuing thence to Kiddington, Glympton, and so on to Oxford. At the top of the last mentioned hill it branches off along the side of the hill, descends again into Cleveley, crosses the stream by a small bridge, and issuing out from Cleveley at the further end, keeps its way along the valley of Bagnall to the end of Fulwell, where it rises the hills on that side, and formerly skirting Neat Enstone, took its way to Lidstone and Charlford, forming the chief highroad northward.
The hamlet of Cleveley contains two corn mills, and a number of dwellings chiefly cottages. One of these is constructed and appropriated for use as a Baptist Chapel. By the census of 1851, the inhabitants of Cleveley were 228, and the inhabited houses 48. No inclosure has ever taken place here, but by the amalgamation of estates, and peculiar law proceedings, the lands have been separated, and assigned to the various proprietors. The whole field contains more than 600 acres, of which 530 belong to Mr. John Jolly, 56 to the Enstone Parish Church Estate, and the rest to other small proprietors.
From the oldest deed we have it is to be inferred that Cleveley was at that time a separate manor, for Margery of Dychel, the grantor of that deed, was the daughter of Willielmus le Colonna of Cleveley, and had held the land, therein granted by her, by payment of the quit rent of a rose every year, in the month of June, to her father. But besides these, the most ancient names connected with our parish, and dating back about six hundred years at least, we have more frequent mention of residents at Cleveley in those earlier deeds, than any other part of the parish. Nor is this to be wondered at, for almost all of them were dated and done at Cleveley, another proof of this having been a separate manor, and consequently the inhabitants of Cleveley were necessarily required to attend the courts at which they were executed, and to assist in their execution. Accordingly we have, in a deed of the year 1295 mention of William Colonna who had been the father of Margery of Dychelye, and must have been resident here about the year 1250, for at the time of the deed Margery was herself a widow of some age, since she had a daughter also a widow, so that the grandfather of this daughter must certainly have been living at Cleveley about 1250. About the same time we have Roger Gardiner, and John the Fuller both resident here. In 1317 we have John Newman and John Sibell; in 1339 Radulfus Jordan; in 1350 Willielmus Follar de Clyvele Capellanus, that is William Fuller of Cleveley, Chaplain or Officiating Priest, implying that there may have been some house of worship here; besides many more, both in these deeds and in the registers, from which it may well be inferred that this was a place of some little note.
One of the names most frequently met with in our old deeds is that of Le Ffollar, which evidently is nothing more than the Fuller, as we have the Mason, the Taylor, and others. But the Fuller plainly implies, that there was here formerly a branch of the woollen manufacturers, for which, ever since the time of William Conqueror downwards, England has ever been remarkable. Of this manufacture fulling, as it is one of the last parts of the process, so is it one of the most perfecting and valuable, for it is that which renders our cloths so compact and effectual, that the whole piece seems formed of one substance, and not of interlacing threads as when first woven, nor is it liable, like other woven goods, to unravel when cut with scissors. Although it is not to be supposed that this system of fulling was formerly here brought to the perfection that it now is, yet doubtless it was already in progress, and the stream at Cleveley which now turns two corn mills was in all probability employed, in the time of Edward the Third, when John the Fuller lived there, to work mills producing cloths of more or less excellency of finish. Indeed we might almost give a guess as to the kind of cloths manufactured here, for in a deed of 1403, in which John Sclater of Clevely agrees to supply William Newman with various articles, one of these enumerated was a robe or gown of russet or frieze. Now this last-named material for dress was that for which Wales became remarkable, when Edward III brought over a number of skilful Flemings, to improve the cloth manufactures of England. This idea is the more deserving of credit when we find, at a somewhat later period in the history of our parish, many Welsh names, such as Vaughan, Owen, Evans, and the like; so that in fact we may confidently conclude that Cleveley was at one time a seat of the woollen manufactures, although from various causes they have decayed and passed away. That there were actually fulling mills at Radford has already been shown, and that undoubted fact makes the existence of them at Cleveley also all the more probable.
Until recently, when it was repaired, and thereby materially impaired in appearance, there existed at Cleveley. the ancient house belonging to the church lands, which was in an ecclesiastic style of architecture, of about the thirteenth century, having an exceedingly good gothic arched doorway. Unfortunately, however, when this ancient house was repaired, a few years since, this doorway was taken down, without the slightest necessity for disturbing it, and instead of its being restored again, as it might have been, the arch alone was rebuilt, and the well worked sides of the door frame were mercilessly mutilated, and being turned into coins, were used in forming the corner stones of the building. Whether this ever was a religious house, which it may possibly have been, is altogether uncertain. One of the Fuller family, who were so long connected with and were the tenants of the church lands, in the fourteenth century, is described as Capellanus, a Chaplain, which Warton tells us only means an officiating clergyman, so at Cleveley or elsewhere does not appear. Near adjoining to the village, according to the terrier of lands we have, there was land known as the glebe, which always implies land belonging to an ecclesiastical benefice, and further a field was an extensive furlong called St. Mary's furlong, whence again it maybe inferred that there had been here anciently some endowed chapel or other religious institution.
There was at Cleveley formerly a piece of land called the Litter Acre, from the fact of its having been given to provide straw or litter for the floor of the church. This was in ancient times esteemed a luxury even in the houses of the great, for Fitzstephen, the Secretary of the famous Archbishop Becket, in the reign of Henry II., writes of him, that "in winter his apartments were every day covered with clean hay and straw, and in summer with green rushes or boughs, that the gentlemen who paid court to him, and who could not, by reason of their numbers, find a place at table, might not soil their fine clothes, by sitting on a dirty floor". Even as late as the year 1662, the church of Burford was not paved, a fact which we have on the authority of Anthony Wood, for he, writing in his Athenæ Oxoniensés of the burial place of William Lenthall, speaker of the Long Parliament, thus relates it. "As yet he hath no monument, nor so much as any stone over his grave, the floor being (now, or at least lately,) covered only with sand, and unpaved." Vol. ii, p.205. There is mention in our terrier of a small piece of land in what is called "Rush Pitts Furlong", which may have been the Litter Acre.
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