Old Marston in the 1800s

Below are various articles relating to Old Marston in the 1800s (click on link): The White Hart; The Red Lion; From the Civil War to Jack Russell Breed; Gardener’s History 1852; Bishop Wilberforce’s Visit 1854; The Parish Council - Its Origins in 1894 and Functions; William Roberts.


The White Hart

The 1605 map of Marston by Thomas Langdon of All Souls College, and later with Corpus Christi College, shows a building just where the White Hart now stands today. In fact this is the only building shown. Later, one Nicholas Hore is described as living in a large house, which could well be this building. It is also said that in 1785 there was a group of cottages on the site. Whether these were the old building adapted or new ones in the same place is not clear. Whatever it was, the building was converted into a pub in 1801.


In 1817, one John Parker, with others bought the building called “The White Hart” in conjunction with other pieces of land and buildings. He certainly lived there in 1843, but unfortunately went bankrupt in 1848 and his rights and responsibilities were taken over by others.


In 1851, Thomas Castle was the landlord. He couldn’t have been there long, but was obviously regarded in high esteem in that he was on the vestry committee, an honour only given to the larger landowners generally.


The Evans family ran it for several years later in the century along with a dairy. Moving into the 20th Century, two generations of the Hayle family ran it from 1926 to 1972.


After 200 years serving the village of Marston, the pub is now being converted into two apartments and houses are being built on the land at the back. Despite the security fences, items are still being stolen from the site. I wonder if they had similar problems when they were building the pyramids?


The Red Lion

Finding out about the history of the Red Lion in Marston has been a challenge as most of the references are tucked away in some obscure documents, but thanks to local historian Alun Jones we have some information.


There is a map in the Bodleian Library dated 1837 that shows a brick house on the site. Prior to this stone was the main building medium. In 1845 there were two cottages on the site on enclosed land. The name of the fields in the enclosure were Sutton Field and Brook Field. The land was owned by the Cannon family, who were large land owners in Marston. The road called Cannons Field is named after them.


In 1895 we know that the name of the landlord was Charles Cottesmore. The Parish Council records show that he was elected to the first ever elected Marston Parish Council which lists his trade as publican.


The pub itself has been owned by several breweries including Halls Brewery, Hind Cope, Morelands and is current held by Green King.


From the Civil War to Jack Russell Breed

By Chris Koenig

From Oxford Times 10:31am Thursday 25th January 2007 (reprinted with permission from Oxford Times)

Old Marston village has played a part in the history of the nation as well as Oxford, writes CHRIS KOENIG.

Many undergraduates in the early 19th century probably spent more time out hunting than studying dreary old books. Among such was Jack Russell (1795-1883), a student at Exeter College, who seems to have been much preoccupied with catching foxes.

Hacking about in Marston one day in 1819 he came across a milkman with a dog called Trump, whom he bought and who was to become the ancestor of the Kennel Club registered breed now named after Mr Russell.

In those day, Marston, name derives from Marsh Town, was rural - handy for an undergraduate huntsman keen to research whether a small but plucky dog could be trained to flush out foxes that had gone to ground.

Until November 12, 1971, when the bridge carrying Marston Ferry Road across the Cherwell was opened, the area was remarkably isolated for somewhere within the Ring Road. Indeed, the only link between North Oxford and Cherwell Drive until then - only 35 years ago but already as remote-seeming as the ancient Romans, at least to anyone stuck in a Marston Ferry Road traffic jam - was by the ferry which had existed at Marston since at least 1279.

Yet the present bridge was not quite the first to be built at Marston. General Thomas Fairfax, commander of the Parliamentary forces laying siege to Royalist Oxford from his headquarters at Headington Hill, built a temporary one there in 1646.

He planned to use it in an attack on the city which would have led to hand-to-hand fighting in the streets. In the event, the King surrendered and the bridge was not used.

The treaty ending the siege of Oxford was signed at the Manor House, Ponds Lane, near St Nicholas Church, in what is now often called Old Marston to distinguish it from New Marston which has grown up on its southern side.

The Manor, now known as Cromwell's House, belonged in the 17th century to the Justice of the Peace and sergeant-at-law Unton Croke, relative of Richard Croke to whom there is a splendid alabaster memorial dated 1683 in St Nicholas Church.

Despite the lack of a road bridge, Oxford had long been trying to expand towards Marston. Nine years after Mr Russell came across Trump, the church of St Clement was built at the Headington end of Marston Road.

It was built at a time when Newman was curate of the parish. It is of unusual Georgian Gothic design and contains a North window removed from St Martin's, Carfax, when all but its tower was pulled down in 1896.

Its East window, incidentally, is by someone called J.H.Russell. For a fleeting moment I wondered whether he could be one and the same gentleman as our terrier fancier. But no. Mr Jack Russell took holy orders and went off to become vicar of Swimbridge, near Barnstable, Devon, thereby explaining why said terriers are sometimes called Parson's terriers.

There is a pub in that village called the Jack Russell. It seems that the Rev Jack Russell, a founder member of the Kennel Club, crossed Trump with Devon hunt dogs to achieve his end of creating a working dog capable of facing up to a fox underground.

He must be turning in his Swimbridge grave at the very notion of a hunting ban - even if it is being largely ignored.

10:31am Thursday 25th January 2007

Reprinted with permission of Oxford Times


Gardner’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Oxfordshire, 1852

Marston parish comprises 1,290 acres, the rateable value of which is £2,499. The assessed property amounts to £3,013; and the population in 1831 was 364; and in 1841, 396 souls. The principal landowners are the Rev. T. H. Whorwood (the lord of the manor); Mr. John Cannon; Mrs. Mary Rippington; and Mr. R. W. Gilbert.

The Village of Marston, which is small, is situate about 1¼ mile N.N.E. of Oxford. A branch of the Croke family resided long at the manor house of this place, and took an active part on the side of the parliament in the civil war. Of this family was the careless and eccentric Charles Croke, who passed the prime of life in wandering about the world, with little fortune and with no pursuit. He published an account of these rambles under the name of Rodolphus, in a book entitled “Youth’s Inconstancy”, printed in 1667.

The Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a pleasing structure, consisting of nave, side aisles, chancel, west tower in which are five bells, and a south porch. In the chancel is a plain piscina, and a monumental tablet to one of the Croke family. The benefice is a discharged vicarage, rated at £26; returned at £27. 8s 6d., gross income £195. Patron, the Rev. T. H. Whorwood; incumbent, Rev. Richard Gordon, M.A.

The Vicarage House is a good edifice of recent erection, near the church.

The Parish School is a neat and picturesque building, recently erected by subscription and opened by the lord bishop of Oxford. It is built of Headington stone, with Bath stone facings and quoins, and is situate near the church.

There is annually given to the poor of this parish a sum of money, called Forest money, the origin of which we could obtain no information. It accrues from the rent of an estate of about one hundred acres, extra-parochial, and adjoining the liberty of Elsfield. This land is let from time to time, for the benefit of the proprietors of Marston and poor, by a committee appointed for the purpose, and by whom a certain portion of the rent is assigned to the poor, according to an ancient scale of division, which appears to have been long acted upon.

There is in this parish a piece of busy land, containing about 26 acres, on which 12 of the poor have a right of common for a cow. We could not discover the origin of this right, and it is doubtful whether it can be referred to any charitable foundation; these 12 cow commons are, however, always enjoyed by 12 poor persons, of whom the parish clerk is one.

Letters are received through the Oxford Post Office (from Headington website)


Bishop Wilberforce’s Visit 1854

Below is an account of the visit to Marston in 1854 by Bishop Wilberforce on behalf of the Oxford Diocese Archdeaconry

1. Richard Gordon, Elsfield Vicarage. Instituted and inducted in April 1849.

2. [ He has during the last year been resident during the time prescribed by law?] No, he has resided on the adjoining benefice of Elsfield.

3. The Curate has performed the whole Sunday duty. He himself visits the sick, attends the school and takes occasional duty.

4. He holds the Vicarage of Elsfield also, the duty of which he has performed.

5. [Is the Curate licensed – what is the date of his license?] Yes. May 16 1849.

6. [Curates name? Priest or Deacon?] Thomas Henry Whorwood, priest.

7. As incumbent he performs the whole duty of the adjoining benefice of Elsfield.

8. Sunday services and 11am and 2.30pm. Sermons at each, excepting those days on which the communion is administered or the children catechised.

9. Preparatory to a Confirmation it is usual to catechise and explain the Catechism to the school children in Church and frequently to hear them catechised by the Master on Sunday afternoons in school.

10. [How ofter do you administer the Sacrament...?] Generally on the first Sunday in the month, excepting on one of those months which have one of the great festivals.

11. [Number of communicants] On the festivals, from fifteen to twenty-five. [About the same] <crossed out> From fifteen to twenty-five on other Sundays. [ I do not keep] <crossed out> A list of communicants is not kept.

12. [Number of congregation] In the morning from thirty to fifty adults, in the evening from 65 to 85. It is perhaps, a little increasing in the evenings, not in the mornings.

13. [Does it bear a fair proportion to the population of the parish? If not, to what do you attribute the deficiency?] It does not.

14. [Objects for which charity sermons have been preached during the last year.] One for the society for the propagation of the Gospel.

15. [What schools?] One efficient National school numbering from 60 to 70 children, a few more attend the Sunday School. There is also a Dame's school, where a few young children receive instruction. The National school is supported partly by children's pence, partly by subscription, but principally by the Incumbent who alone is responsible to the Master and Mistress for their salary.

16. [Are you able to retain your young people in your Sunday School after they have ceased to attend daily school?] A very small proportion.

17. [Have you employed any other method of retaining them under instruction?] During the last winter a few young men attended an Evening school.

18. & 19. [On the number and places of worship of Dissenters] None

19. No return [to the recent census of members of the church and of Dissenters] was made.

20. [On impediments to the incumbents' ministry. No answer seems to have been made.]

21. [Is the church in good repair?... Do the churchwardens do their duties?] Yes

22. [Any alterations since last visitations?] No

23. [Is there any other matter which you consider it expedient to bring under the Bishop's notice? No answer seems to have been made.]

National Schools.... were supported by the National Society for the Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church.


Bishop Wilberforce's Visitation Returns for the Archdeaconry of Oxford in the year 1854 [ORS 35. Ed E.P. Baker (1954)]


The Parish Council - Origins and functions 1894

Over the centuries, poor relief passed from the monasteries to the church vestries and in combined parishes to the Boards of Guardians. Vestries were given power to provide lighting and charge a rate on the householders, another charge was permitted for highway work within the parish, in addition to the poor rate. This was the beginnings of local government as we know it. Boroughs were historically self governing, the whole country was parished and counties well established.


The demand for services, and the organisation of them, resulted in groups of parishes being joined into Rural District Councils. As a result of the apportionment of services to those councils the parishes were left with no mandatory functions but parish government was formalised in 1894 in two ways. Parishes with elected councils were created; where councils were not elected the district council could appoint one. The very small parishes, like Thomley in Oxfordshire that consisted of one farm and a few cottages, were given parish meeting status where all the electors took on the role of a council.


Parish Councils have no duties - only opportunities. The demand for allotments must however be met where possible. There are a variety of ways in which a Parsih Council may utilize its assets. Old Marston's assets are the burial ground, recreation grounds and allotments. A Parish Council may also spend £5.44 per elector each year on items outside those having statutory consent, provided that the expenditure is for the benefit of some or all of the electors. That amounts to £16,417 this year, the downside being that the money must be raised through the precept.


The precept is an annual demand made by the Parish Council on the City Council requiring it to add to the council tax, for the parish, the amount required. The precept to fund each year's outgoings is determined at the January Parish Council meetings Roy Garner    Parish Clerk


Published in Marston Times January 2008

Reprinted by kind permission Jan Sanders, Editor


The Parish Council (2001)

It was in 1894 that the civil parishes were created, functions defined, and powers to raise money, through what is now the Council Tax, granted. It was at this time that our Parish Council was established. It has twelve members who are elected every four years, the next election being in 2003. Electors having an interest in local affairs are encouraged to stand.


The functions are largely permissive. The major one in this parish is recreation. Three recreation areas are provided, two with notable play equipment; shortly the Oxford Road area is to have some £18 000 spent on further equipment. The Council has provided the pavilion for the Boults Lane area with sites for the Scout Hut and the Mortimer Hall. It has provided the Burial Ground that is currently being extended on land previously purchased. An area for ashes has been included in the plan. It may provide for other types of recreation and services like tennis courts, swimming baths, bus shelters, public clocks etc.


The Council has the right to be consulted by the City Council on all planning applications, which are then considered at its monthly meetings.


It was as a result of the efforts of the Council that the older established area was made a Conservation Area. It nominates one governor to the Board of Governors of St Nicholas School and maintains close links with other organizations, both by nomination rights to The Old Marston Charities Trust (two members) and the Mortimer Hall Committee, and by invitation to OXSRAD and the Play Group. A member also attends the City Council Conservation Area Advisory Committee.


One of its major activities is to ensure the roads and footpaths are properly maintained by the City Council. We try to insist on receiving our fair share of money and attention in this respect. One of our long-term campaigns has been for traffic calming and latterly, this has included a 20 mph speed limit on Oxford Road between Marston Ferry Road and the Elsfield Road junction with the fly-over. Our concern for the effect of traffic on the local environment, is now linked to the JRII extension and the effects on the Parish of the additional traffic and parking. The Park and Ride position is being constantly monitored.


The Council may carry out maintenance on light footpaths, which are not Highway Footpaths. The Council is also permitted to spend up to £3.50 per elector per year, about £9000, for the benefit of some or all of the residents. This provision is used to give grants to other parish organizations.


The Council is required to provide allotments. These are in Mill Lane where about twenty await tenants. The allotments in Oxford Road are owned by the City Council and run by the Court Place Farm Allotment Association, who have about one hundred begging for tenants.


The Council, being a local authority subject to parliamentary controls in the same way as the County and City Councils, has to have regard to the legal position in deciding what local concerns it can support. Here the Old Marston Residents Association can be most helpful. It is separate from the Council and it was the campaign to get sewers in Horseman Close repaired at public expense that renewed its impetuous. Since then it has been active in affairs affecting the Parish.


Published in Marston Times January 2001

Reprinted by kind permission Jan Sanders, Editor


History of Parish Councils (article from Wargrave Parish Council Website)

A Parish Council, also known as a Local Council, is a statutory local authority in its own right. It has a wide variety of powers conferred by many statutes (Acts of Law), which it administers within it's parish boundary (local authority area).

A common misconception is that today's Parish Council is in some way connected with, or part of, the Church. The confusion arises over the word "parish", but to fully understand this a brief history lesson is required.

The origins of most English parishes dates back over 500 years to a time when England was divided into areas known as 'manors' owned by Lords. The Lord of the Manor had a civil responsibility to maintain his starving tenants through the right of levy (taxation). This was imposed using an assembly system of local administration known as a 'court'. Over time and as the manor courts' power declined, the influence, wealth and responsibility of the Church increased. Gradually the Lord of the Manor's rights and responsibilities were taken over by the Church, which had recognised rights and obligations of charity to the poor. The obligations were managed in each church's parochial area, which is known as a parish.

These responsibilities were administered through meetings of the inhabitants and were known as Vestries (as they were usually held in the Church Vestry). As the population expanded so did the size of the meetings, so much so that they split into smaller more administratively efficient committees called Select Vestries which in turn each claimed a separate existence. Unfortunately the Select Vestries using their power of levy known as the Church Rate, rapidly became notorious for being corrupt. As the vestries' origins was in an ecclesiastical institution, considerable damage was done to the old parochial system of authorities.

In the 1800's the Church Rate was abolished and the poor law administration was withdrawn from the parochial authorities. As society developed new administrative services were created to fulfil the needs of the parish and were assigned to specialised bodies. The organisation of these services proved to be inefficient and complicated. It took Parliament twenty years of legislation and experimentation to resolve the issue.

In 1894 the Local Government Act was passed which created local authorities responsible for the administration of a parish's services as well as the civil functions of the older parochial institutions - the new authorities were known as Parish Councils.


Marston in 1891

Kelly’s Directory of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire, 1891:

MARSTON is a parish on the Cherwell, which forms part of the boundary of the parish, one third of a mile north-north-east from Oxford, in the Mid division of the county, hundred and petty sessional division of Bullingdon, union of Headington, county court district of Oxford, rural deanery of Islip, archdeaconry and diocese of Oxford.

The church of St. Nicholas is an ancient and plain building of stone, in mixed styles, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, south porch and a low embattled western tower containing 5 bells: the chancel is well proportioned and has an east window of three lights, with a spray of oak foliage carved in the apex of the dripstone: the recess of the first window on the south side is carried down and forms a sedile, and eastward of it is a small square piscina; on the same side is a blocked door, with a heavy carved label on the outside: the chancel arch is Transition Norman and near it is a hagioscope from the south aisle: the nave has arcades of four arches on the north and three on the south side, of the same style as the chancel arch, but not equally early: the clerestoried windows are Late perpendicular, as are the walls of both aisles and the north door: the tower partakes of the same features: in the chancel is a brass to Unton Croke esq. serjeant-at-law, ob. 1671, and to Anne, his wife, daughter and heir of Richard Here [= Hore] esq. of Marston; Croke resided at the Manor House and took a prominent part on the side of the Parliament in the Civil War: the church was restored in 1883 at a cost of £1,400, when the chancel was new roofed: there are 200 sittings. The churchyard formerly contained a cross, but this was taken down in 1830 in order to mend the church wall. The register dates from the year 1654. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent-charge £182, net yearly value £173, in the gift of the Rev. Evan Evans D.D. Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, and held since Nov. 1887 by the Rev. Chas. Morris B.A. Corpus Christi college, Oxford

One hundred acres of land in this parish are let out for the benefit of the proprietors of Marston and of the poor; a committee appointed assigns the portion of the poor according to a scale agreed upon; the rent-charge is termed “Forest money”.

The village cross, distinct from that formerly in the churchyard, was taken down about 1830 and the materials used for mending the roads.

The old Manor house, removed in 1843, was used as a place of meeting in May, 1646, by the Royal and Parliamentary Commissioners during the negociations for the surrender of Oxford.

The trustees of the late William Peppercorn are lords of the manor. The principal landowners are Brasenose and Corpus Christi colleges, Oxford, Mrs. John Rippington and Edwin Rippington esq.

The soil is loam and clay; subsoil, clay and gravel. The chief crops are wheat and barley. The area is 1,212 acres; rateable value, £3,805; the population in 1881 was 515.

Parish Clerk, Richard Ward.

Post Office.—Mrs. Elizabeth Roberts, postmistress. Letters arrive through Oxford at 7.15 a.m. & dispatched at 6 p.m.; dispatched 2 p.m. on sundays. Oxford is the nearest money order & telegraph office

National School (mixed), erected in 1851, for 79 children & enlarged in 1887 for 100; average attendance, 100; Mr. Henry Furby, master; Mrs. Jane Rothwell, mistress

Carriers.—Willis, to Oxford daily; Coleman, Giles & Higgs pass through to Oxford wed. & sat. returning same day.

(From Headington website)


William Roberts

William Roberts (1850 - 1936) was a prominent figure in Marston.  Married to Elizabeth Carter he had eight daughters.  He was born in one of the Church Cottages in Elsfield Road (since demolished).

He was a Member of the first Parish Council formed in 1894 gaining the most votes (39), and was later Chairman for 6 yrs. (Refer also to LINK). He was also Secretary of the Albany Lodge of the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows, a benevolent society.


William Roberts’ main trade was a Shoemaker, more particularly a ‘Cordwainer’.  He made the shoes for his wife and family, and would walk miles to deliver shoes to his customers.  He also was a Gardener, and drove a pony and trap, taking parishioners for shopping in Oxford.   He owned a little secluded garden in Back Lane which had a potting shed with paths edged with blue bull nosed bricks leading around a variety of apple trees.   At the far end was an array of Lily of the Valley which his daughters sold on Magdalen Bridge on May Morning.  It was sold in 1969 and now the site of a detached house at the end of Arlington Drive.


William Roberts moved with his wife Elizabeth and family to Rose Cottage (later called Rosebank) in Main Road (now 71 Oxford Road) in the early 1900’s.  which was left to Elizabeth by her brother Joseph Carter* on his death (probably soon after 1911.). The property was divided into three dwellings until 2003 when they were converted into two. One retained the name of Rosebank and the other named Shoemakers, as that part had the workshop where the shoes were made.  A pair of shoemakers ‘pliers’ are the only item remaining, now in the possession of the author.  These had a dual purpose with the hammer head for hobnailing.


He and his wife sang in the choir, and with his father and brothers, rang the church bells,   A service which the author also gave to the church years later. He also tolled the tenor bell for funerals.   At the time, there was an earlier balcony to the one which now exists. This was where the church orchestra played.  There were two clarinets, and a bassoon.  One clarinet was played by Elizabeth’s father, and the other by William’s father.  One was given to the church by Betty Deam when the other one was stolen from the glass case where it used to be mounted on the organ when it was in the side wing (The present whereabouts is yet to be located).  William played the violin which now belongs to the author of this documentary.


One of his daughter’s, Margaret died when she was 18.  She worked as an assistant in the village  school.   She is buried with the elder sister Florence in the Church yard.  Another daughter Mary later ran the Post Office where Bessie Matilda also worked and delivered the Post,  both featuring on the front cover of the “The Changing Faces  of Marston”,  Book One.


William and Elizabeth Roberts are buried in St. Nicholas Churchyard with Mary Ransom .  The gravestone is quite visible but the curb stones were destroyed without the family approval a few years ago, to make way for the internment of Ashes of others.


There are several descendants of the Roberts family living in the village today.  


Personal knowledge, owned documents and other Information collated by Noel  D. Deam (Great Grandson), Photographs – Copies taken from originals owned by Noel Deam


*  Joseph Carter was a brick maker at the brickworks in New Marston which he probably part owned with Mark Carter. He also owned three cottages in Ferry Road, New Marston which he left to his niece Ann Edwards.      Refer to “The Changing Faces of Marston” Book One p87.

Links to Other History Pages

History and Timeline of Marston; Geography of Old Marston; Archive News and Links; Maps; Street Names - the origin and meaning behind the names of Marston’s streets; St Nicholas Parish Church; Marston School History; History of Parish Council, Old Marston Charities Trust History; Old Marston Library Archives; Highways, Transport, Traffic and Parking; Medieval Marston; 1500s in Old Marston; 1600s in Old Marston; 1700s in Old Marston; 1800s in Old Marston; 1900s in Old Marston; Bell Ringers; Mill Lane Allotments; Mortimer Hall History; Planning and Development Archives; Other History Links.


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