The History of Tiddington with Albury Parish
Some nine miles to the east of Oxford, between Wheatley and Thame on the A418, lies the small civil parish of Tiddington with Albury, which was created in 1932 out of the two civil parishes of Albury and Tiddington. These had formerly comprised the single ancient parish of Albury. In 1932 Albury covered 674 acres and Tiddington 422 acres. The only recorded change in the parish boundaries was made in 1886 when Tiddington Meadow was transferred to Waterstock. The parish slopes gently upwards from the River Thame and its meadows, which lie at about 200 ft. above sea-level and are liable to flooding, to about 340 ft. in the south and south-west. The Thame as it flows westwards to Ickford Bridge forms part of the parish’s northern boundary; the eastern boundary, which skirts Rycote pond, cuts across Rycote Park and then runs south to meet the Thame road, is the only other one with any historical significance.
The main road from Oxford to Thame traverses the north of the parish; two roads branch off to Albury and Tiddington, while a third, Sandy Lane, connects the Thame road with the London road, which crosses the southern tip of the parish. The latter road accounts for the existence of the ancient ‘Three Pigeons’ and the modern Brimpton Grange Hotel and Transport Café. The section of the Oxford to High Wycombe railway line, which crosses the parish, and Tiddington Station were built in the 1850’s (now demolished).
The soil is clay with a gravel sub-soil, and has in the past been mainly used for pasture. The land is well watered by the Thame and its tributary, Tiddington Brook. Fishing in these waters is recorded in medieval times: in 1254 common rights to the fishing were in dispute, and in 1301 the manorial rights were worth 12d a year. In the 17th century there is evidence to show that leaseholders also had rights in the fishing besides the lord of the manor. There are several coppices, but the only large wood is Fernhill Wood.
Albury village, the site of the parish church, lies about 220 ft. up. From the early Middle Ages it was a smaller place than Tiddington, and today consists only of the church and rectory, Church Farm, and Albury House. The large rectory, built in c. 1819, was untenanted in 1953, though its stables had been converted into a house for a local schoolmaster.
Less than half a mile across the fields to the west lies Albury’s sometime hamlet of Tiddington. The Fox and Goat, which is partly modern and partly 16th century, some ancient cottages, one of which was being demolished in 1953, a garage, and a few other recent buildings lie on either side of the main road to Thame, but the village mostly straggles along the by-road, edged with old elm trees and orchards, which runs to Tiddington House, on the hill-top about 260 ft. up. It still has a number of picturesque cottages built in the 16th, 17th, or 18th centuries. The earliest are timber-framed, filled with lathe and plaster or bricks, and are noticeable for the very thick rubble walls, about 3 ft. high, which support the timber frames and may be of an even earlier date. They have thatched or tiled roofs and dormer windows with casements. Typical of these is the cottage which was settled in 1688 by Thomas Tatham, carpenter, on his son. It was then described as a three-roomed cottage, with one large room below (now divided into two) and two above, and was probably built in the 16th century. In the early 18th century it was owned by the blacksmith who built the adjoining cottage, now the village general shop.
A rather more elaborate cottage of 16th-century date faces Manor Farm; it is distinguished by its half-hipped roof of thatch and its west gable with a bay window which has wooden mullions and transoms and a tiled gable.
The 19th century is characteristically represented by neat red-brick houses with slate roofs, and by a red-brick school dated 1873, and the 20th by eighteen grey concrete council houses with steelframed windows and greenish tiled roofs.
Tiddington House, the principal house in the village, is a two-storied Queen Anne house with attics, approached from the village lane by steps leading into a small formal garden. It is mostly built of vitreous brick with red-brick dressings, has a front of three bays with two steeply pedimented dormer windows, and a hipped roof of tiles with wide eaves. There have been later additions on the south and north sides, and at the back there are remains of the earlier 17th-century house once occupied by the yeoman farmer William Wixon. Farther down the hill is Manor Farm. Part of the present house, the wing built of rubble at the back, dates from the 17th century, but the whole house must have superseded an older building. It is now mainly a late-18thcentury chequered-brick building of two stories. The other farm-houses are in outlying parts of the parish: Sandy Lane Farm in the south and Albury Farm in the east.
The 17th-century Mill House lies by the Tiddington Brook at the east end of the village, and is probably on the site of the water-mill mentioned in 1332. The only records of the windmill are the field names, Windmill Hill and Windmill Field, which were in common use in the 17th century.
In 1643 Prince Maurice with 2,000 horses went through the parish on his way to Thame; Prince Rupert’s forces lay ‘scambling about the contry between Tame and Milton’ in March of the same year. Later in the war parliamentary troops occupied this area.
Domesday Book records two separate estates at Albury and Tiddington. ALBURY was part of the lands of William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford; he died in 1071, and the property of his son, who rebelled against the king in 1075, was confiscated. During the next 150 years the history of Albury can only be guessed at. The manor was probably granted to one of the Chesneys, a prominent Oxfordshire family. Robert de Chesney became Bishop of Lincoln, and his brother William was a noted supporter of Stephen. He was in supreme command in Oxfordshire during the anarchy; it may well have been he to whom Albury was granted. He died between 1164 and 1170, leaving his estates to coheirs. His niece, Maud de Chesney, who was one of these, married Henry FitzGerold before 1167, and probably brought Albury into the FitzGerold family. Their eldest son was Warin FitzGerold; and his daughter and heiress, Margaret, married Baldwin de Riviers, son of the Earl of Devon. Her husband died young in 1216, but left an heir, Baldwin de Riviers (d. 1245), who became Earl of Devon; Albury descended to him, and continued during the 13th century to be held in chief by the Earls of Devon. With the death of Isabel, Countess of Aumale and Devon, in 1293, the lands of the Earldom of Devon were divided up. Albury, with the other FitzGerold estates, went to Warin de Lisle, a member of the Rougemont branch of the family of de Lisle. He was a descendant of Alice, another granddaughter of Henry FitzGerold, who married Robert de Lisle.
Warin de Lisle died in 1296; his son Robert, a minor at his father’s death, became a Franciscan in 1342, and Albury passed to his son John, a prominent military commander. He was succeeded in 1355 by his son Robert de Lisle, who in 1368 surrendered, for reasons unknown, 86 knight’s fees to the king. Albury was one of the manors surrendered; (fn. 33) after 1368, therefore, there was no overlordship.
In 1086 Albury and masurae in Wallingford which were attached to it were held by Rainald son of Croc, the Conqueror’s huntsman. By the end of the 12th century the manor was held by the Foliots of Chilton Foliat (Wilts.), a family who were related by marriage to the Chesneys, the overlords of Albury. William Foliot, mentioned in 1197, was the earliest heard of at Albury.
During the 13th century there was further subinfeudation, and one branch of Foliots held of another. The mesne tenants were Henry Foliot, who was dead by 1233, and Samson, his son and heir, a minor in 1235, and Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1267, who lived until about 1280. The undertenants were Roger Foliot, who in 1219 granted Albury in dower to Isabel, probably his widowed mother, and wife of Hugh de Whithull, and who was in possession by 1225; Peter Foliot, perhaps his son, who held it in 1242–3 and 1255; Roger Foliot, a minor in 1279; and Peter Foliot, who sold his rights in Albury in 1295 to John de London. By the end of the century the rights of the Foliots in Albury had come to an end.
Henry de Teyes, of Chilton Foliat, whose connexion with Samson Foliot is not known, succeeded him as mesne tenant in about 1280. He died in 1307, and Albury must have passed to his son Henry, beheaded in 1322 after the battle of Boroughbridge, and then to Alice, the latter’s sister and heiress. Through her marriage with Warin de Lisle of Kingston Lisle (Berks.), this branch of the de Lisle family became mesne tenants of the Rougemont branch, and their grandson, Warin de Lisle, was holding Albury as mesne tenant in 1368. On his death in 1382 he left a daughter, Margaret, who married Thomas, Lord Berkeley, (fn. 48) but the family’s rights over Albury lapsed about this time.
The heir of John de London, successor to the other branch of the Foliots as lord of the manor, was John Despenser, but his relationship with the famous Hugh Despenser the elder has not been established. John Despenser held the manor in the 1320’s, and his widow did so in 1349 and 1361. By 1368 the property may have been split up, for in that year their son John held 2 fees in Oxfordshire including ‘Albury by Ickford bridge’. While in 1393 it was said that Gilbert Wace and John Salveyn had granted the manor of Albury to John Baldington and Alice his wife before 1376, in 1380 John’s brother Nicholas Despenser apparently conveyed the manor to Salveyn. Possibly Salveyn and Wace were intermediaries in the conveyance of Nicholas’s rights to John and Alice. She may have been Nicholas’s daughter and the manor may have been her dowry, for she continued to hold it after John’s death. She died in 1393. Her son Sir William was then a minor and a royal ward. He died in 1419, after settling the property on his wife Joan; later their son Thomas succeeded and died in 1437, leaving three daughters as coheirs. Through one of these, Agnes, wife of William Brome (or Broun), it came into the Brome family, originally from Warwickshire. Their main residence was at Holton. William Brome died in 1461; his widow, the true owner of the property, held it with her second husband, Geoffrey Gate; on her death it descended to her son Robert Brome, who died in 1485. He was succeeded by his son Christopher, who died in 1509, and by his grandson John Brome, a minor at the time of his father’s death, who in 1545 sold Albury to Sir John Williams of Rycote in Great Haseley, later Baron Williams of Thame.
Lord Williams of Thame died in 1559. None of his sons survived him, and his younger daughter Margaret, to whom Albury descended, married Henry Norreys, who was created Baron Norreys in 1572. Through the Norreys family the property descended to James Bertie, who was created Earl of Abingdon in 1682. In 1911 the Abingdon estates were broken up and Albury and Great Haseley were sold; there is now no known lord.
At least from the 16th century the lords of the manor were almost certainly non-resident. Christopher Brome (d. 1509) is known to have farmed Albury, and from the middle of the 16th century the Bromes lived at Holton. The Williamses and Norreyses and their successors lived at Rycote until it was destroyed by fire in 1745.
TIDDINGTON was held by Sawold, a royal official, in 1086, having been held freely by Alwi in the Confessor’s time. No further trace of the tenancy in chief has been found until 1208, when, in a case concerning it begun in the king’s court between Ralph de Bray and William Fitzellis, it was successfully claimed by Henry d’Oilly. Tiddington must therefore have been part of the great d’Oilly estates, then comprising 32¼ knight’s fees in Oxfordshire. In 1232 Henry d’Oilly died, and his honor went to his nephew, Thomas de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, but Tiddington had been separated from it by 1242–3, for Peter son of Herbert then held it in chief, and Reynold son of Peter held it in 1279. This family also held land in Waterperry, but it is not mentioned again in connexion with Tiddington. Probably the overlordship lapsed; in 1428 a jury stated that the overlord was not known.
Domesday Book records no under-tenant at Tiddington. In the late 12th century the manor was almost certainly part of the lands of Emma, daughter of Fulk de Bray, whose husband, William Fitzellis, had entered Newburgh Priory in about 1180. Their son William Fitzellis was at law about the property with Ralph de Bray in 1208, and in 1227 Richard de Bray gave up any claim to it. The genealogy of the Fitzellis family, who also obtained Waterperry from Emma de Bray, is rather confused. William (II) Fitzellis died in 1227, and in 1242–3 his widow, Rose de la Rokele, was the lady of Tiddington. They had at least two sons, William (III) Fitzellis and Ellis.
In 1279 Roger Fitzellis was holding Tiddington; he may have been either a younger son of William (III) Fitzellis, or the son of the younger brother Ellis. The latter is more likely, for William Fitzellis is known to have granted Tiddington to his brother Ellis in fee at a quit rent. This grant was probably made in the second half of the 13th century, but before 1279. Roger Fitzellis had a son William, also known as William de Corston, from his property at Corston (Wilts.), who is recorded as lord of Tiddington in 1316 and died in 1318. His daughter and heiress Elizabeth married Sir John Russell of Bradenstoke (Wilts.) and in 1377 their daughter Joan, who inherited Tiddington, married Thomas Quatremain, a member of the important Oxfordshire family, whose chief seat was Rycote. Thomas Quatremain died in 1398. He was succeeded by his three sons: John (d. 1403), Guy (d. 1414), and Richard, the most prominent member of the family, who played an important part in the 15thcentury history of Oxfordshire. He had commercial interests in London and was a Yorkist supporter. On his death in 1477 his property was divided between the descendants of his two sisters. Tiddington went to his great-nephew, Thomas Danvers, who was already lord of the neighbouring manor of Waterstock. (fn. 93) His father was John Danvers, the husband of Joan Bruly, daughter of Richard Quatremain’s sister Maud and John Bruly of Waterstock.
Thomas Danvers died in 1502, after apparently settling Tiddington on his wife Sybil for her life. She died in 1511, and the Danvers property was then divided among Thomas Danvers’s three greatnieces. One of these, Elizabeth, who married Thomas Cave of Stanford (Northants.), must have inherited Tiddington, as her husband was licensed to take possession of her lands in 1522. Edward Cave, a younger son of Thomas, inherited Tiddington and Waterstock, where he settled. He was dead by 1566, when his widow Elizabeth is found dealing with the manor of Tiddington. In 1580 another Edward Cave, probably their son, was in possession. The manor then seems to have passed, perhaps tortiously, to the Hall family, for twelve years later his nephew William Cave of Stanford (presumably Sir William) brought a case before the Privy Council alleging that Anne Rowles and John Hall ‘pretended title’ to Tiddington manor through a conveyance obtained by ‘indirect means’ from his uncle, Edward Cave. Nevertheless the Halls remained in possession and in 1606 conveyed the manor to Robert Waller, the father of Edmund Waller the poet. He died in 1616, when Edmund was but ten. The poet’s connexion with Tiddington may have been no more than a financial one. So far as is known he never lived there, and, indeed, after his plot to secure London for Charles I (probably conceived when he treated with him at Oxford in 1643), he was banished and fined £10,000. His mother Anne, who looked after his Beaconsfield (Bucks.) property during his exile, and to whom he granted Tiddington manor in 1646, sold part of the land there in the same year. (fn. 106) She probably sold the remainder later to meet her son’s fine.
After this, trace of the descent is lost until the 19th century. In 1824 the manor was held by John Blackhall, the lord of Great and Little Milton manors, and in 1853 by Pembroke College. Manorial rights have now lapsed.
Economic and Social History.
There is no record of Roman or Saxon remains in the parish, but the names Albury and Tiddington are both of Old English origin and indicate settlement at an early date, probably in the 6th century. ‘Aldeberie’ means the old burgor fortified place, ‘Titendene’, the ‘hill of Tytta’. In the 17th century it was sometimes known as ‘Tithingtown’.
At the time of Domesday Book the parish was sparsely populated; there were then 9 peasants at Albury and 1 bordar at Tiddington. By 1279 there were in addition to the lords of the manors, 12 tenants at Albury and 13 at Tiddington. From this time Tiddington was probably the more populous village, but by 1428 the total population had apparently so much declined that there were not 10 householders in the parish. By 1524, there were at least 9 households in Tiddington alone. During the 16th and 17th centuries there may have been some increase for in 1676 the Compton Census recorded 50 conformists over sixteen.
By the end of the 18th century, the population had further increased. In 1793 the rector stated that there were 40 houses, and in 1801 Albury had 54 inhabitants and Tiddington 123. During the 19th century the population of the whole parish remained fairly stable, but Tiddington developed and Albury declined. Tiddington had its largest population, 207, in 1841; by 1911 it was 156. In 1851 the population of Albury was 60, in 1911 only 27. The population of the parish in 1951 was 300.
Two factors which helped to shape the history of the parish were the dissimilar development of the two manors and the early inclosure. Albury was the larger manor; in 1086 it was assessed at 3 hides. There was land for three ploughs and there were actually three ploughs, one of which was in demesne. In 1279 the demesne lands were 5½ virgates, or at most 165 acres. In 1301 the manor is described as containing a capital messuage with garden and dovecote worth 6s. a year, 120 acres of arable land valued at 4d. an acre, 9 acres of meadow worth 2s. 8d. an acre, and one separate pasture worth 10s. a year. Pleas and perquisites were worth 10d.
In 1485 the manor was valued at £6; in the early 16th century at £18 6s. 8d. It is probable that the lord of the manor continued to hold all the land in Albury; certainly in the 18th and 19th centuries the Earls of Abingdon were the only landowners. When the Abingdon estate was broken up in 1911, it comprised two large farms (Church and Walter’s farms) of about 200 acres each, two small ones of about 50 acres each, Fern Hill Wood, and part of Rycote Park.
In 1086 Tiddington was assessed at 2 hides and 3 virgates; there were 2 ploughs, both in demesne, and it was worth 40s. instead of 30s. T.R.E. By 1279 the demesne had decreased, as there were only 3½ virgates or enough land for 1 plough team. In 1616 the manor was said to consist of 10 messuages, 10 tofts, 480 acres of land, and the fishing rights; thus all the land in Tiddington was then part of the manor. There was considerable change in the 1640’s, when the lands belonging to the manor were divided into a number of medium-sized freeholds and sold to various tenants. At the end of the 18th century there were nine farms, including the one held by the rector. The largest (c. 60 a.), belonged to Pembroke College; the four smallest were probably of about 15 acres each. There were also several cottagers. The same pattern of land-holding existed in the 19th century; while the Earl of Abingdon owned almost all the land in Albury, there were many small landowners in Tiddington. In the 20th century there have again been considerable changes and farms have been amalgamated.
Inclosure probably started in the 15th century and was completed in the 17th; at all events there was no parliamentary inclosure. The 16th-century Domesday of Inclosures refers to 200 acres of pasture in Albury held by John Andelet; in 1645 William Wixon purchased 37 acres in Westfield, fenced off with ‘a hedge and a ditch,’ and 3 acres of pasture where a messuage had once stood. The Pembroke College deeds also record inclosure in the 17th century. A 7-acre close in Westfield, described in 1674 as ‘now divided and severed with a quicksett hedge and ditch from the rest of the said ground’, had been inclosed before 1649 during the lifetime of John Cooper, a tenant of the manor. In fact by the last quarter of the century all the Cooper and Wixon property consisted of closes. Indeed, in 1685 a terrier of the rectory states that the whole parish ‘has been time out of mind enclosed’. The fact of early inclosure is supported by the 18th-century accounts of the Earl of Abingdon’s estates, which refer also to Albury as inclosed, and by Arthur Young’s report.
The two small farming communities were mainly composed of unfree tenants in the medieval period. In 1279, of the 12 tenants in villeinage at Albury each held half a virgate or about 10 acres; each had to find a man to work every other day for the lord of the manor from midsummer to Michaelmas. After hay-making each had a right to fixed quantities of meat, bread, corn, cheese, and salt. At Tiddington 8 tenants in villeinage held 8½ virgates between them and paid money rents of a mark. There was one free tenant with 1 virgate for which he paid a mark a year; 4 cottars paid small money rents and worked 8 days in the fields in the autumn.
With no resident lord of the manor in postmedieval times, there was no one of great wealth in the parish. For example, in 1524, 3 people in Tiddington were taxed on £8 worth of goods each; 7 were ‘in service’, 2 ‘in wages’. As in later years many of the inhabitants were probably dependants of the great house at Rycote. In 1665 the rector, who paid tax on 4 hearths, may have been the richest inhabitant; 3 other inhabitants of Albury had 2 or 1 hearth each, and in Tiddington out of 7 households listed, only 2 had 3 hearths. At the election of 1754, the only 40s. freeholder in Albury was the rector; in Tiddington there were 9 40s. freeholders, 7 of them resident in the parish.
The break-up of the manorial demesne, the rise and fall of some of the yeomen and farmers who lived in the parish and its neighbourhood, and their connexion with the towns, may be illustrated from deeds held by Pembroke College.
In 1646 Anne Waller, lady of the manor, sold to her tenant William Wixon, yeoman, the house in which he lived (now Tiddington House), 37 acres in Westfield, and 3 acres of pasture; to Richard Wixon, yeoman, another of her tenants, she sold his dwelling house and four closes: Niether Close, two closes in the Breach, and ‘new ground’ of 28 acres (44 a. in all). To a third tenant, John Cooper, she sold his farm-house (now Manor Farm) and 33 acres of land in Netherfield alias Westfield. William Wixon was obliged to mortgage his property for £150 to the Provost of Oriel in 1661; Richard Wixon sold his property in 1653 to his son-in-law, Simon Broadwater, an Oxford cook, who left it in trust for his heir Simon. In 1697 Simon Broadwater, probably the above-mentioned heir, and now described as a gentleman of New Woodstock, sold the property.
John Cooper left most of his land (three closes of c. 10 a. each) to his son John, who proved a failure. He sold one close to John Ives, a shepherd of Great Milton and his creditor; he leased the house and the other two closes to Anne Tipping of Worminghall (Bucks.); and died owing £66 to the rector and smaller sums to various tradesmen.
Ultimately most of the Cooper and Wixon lands came into the hands of Paul Welles, who farmed land in Chilworth. He bought up young John Cooper’s leases and lands, and his widow later secured the close which had belonged to Cooper’s uncle Thomas. Welles also bought a newly erected house and a 3-acre close, once belonging to Anne Wixon, widow; and 2 messuages, 2 closes (Farme Heys and Webbs close), and 2 closes in the Breach, formerly owned by the widow of William Wixon, a cooper of Oxford; finally in 1699 he bought Richard Wixon’s old farm from Simon Broadwater.
Welles was thus able to consolidate the former Wixon and Cooper lands, but his family, like theirs, had financial difficulties. Ann Welles, his widow, to whom the Chilworth and Tiddington property was left, was compelled to mortgage it in 1714 to her brother William Eldridge of Great Milton. She also borrowed money so that in 1744 her son Paul inherited a debt of £1,636. In 1752 Pembroke College bought the whole estate, undertaking to pay off all the Welles’s debts. The college held it until 1920, when it was sold to the tenant, Mrs. Brownsill, for £3,000.
In this way most of the original Cooper and Wixon property became the college’s Tiddington farm (c. 63 a.). The land lay in two parts: Westfield, to the west of the village with the Oxford-Thame road running along its northern boundary, and other closes along the Tiddington-Ickford road. In 1846 the farm consisted of some ‘useful land, chiefly meadow, which is pretty good, though of a sandy surface upon a stone brash or gravel, very liable to burn in a dry summer’. The arable land was much inferior, being ‘subject to springs’ and in need of draining, and not as clean as could be wished. The rent was then £115 16s. 9d.; it had risen from £85 in 1752 to £135 in 1810, and by 1836 fallen to £108.
There are also records of the Earl of Abingdon’s lands at Albury, showing the type of land and farming problems there in the 18th century. The earl had four principal tenants farming between 100 and 200 acres each. In 1720 one of these was Thomas Kent, whose farm included Little and Upper Albury and was described as ‘for the most part. . . a rich deep sand, most fitt for La Lucerne, the which would yielde great crops for some years’. The Albury meadow lands were generally inclined to be wet and coarse, but parts of Windmill Ground and Brimstone were of better quality, the latter ‘either a woodcock soyl or very springey’. The verdict on the whole estate was that ‘this manor consists wholly of inclosure and much the greatest part of the land very good, the chief improvement(s) there are to keep the meadows as dry as possible and uplands from overplowing, and when laid to grass to be allways clean and in good heart, for then those lands will allways gather strength’. When Arthur Young visited Albury nearly a century later, he described the land as grassland ‘under dairies’. In 1830 the Earl of Abingdon’s bailiff described Albury farm, let to Mr. Hester, as ‘a very compact excellent little farm with a good proportion of mowing land to it’.
Most of the lands of Draycot farm lie in Albury parish, although its buildings are in Ickford (Bucks.). In 1838 the farm had the highest rental and largest acreage in Albury.
The advowson of Albury belonged until recently to the lords of the manor. The Foliots presented in the 13th century and the Despensers in the 14th. The advowson passed to the Diocesan Board of Patronage in 1938.
Early in the 13th century there seems to have been a vicarage as well as a rectory, for between 1209 and 1219 Robert de Whithulle was presented to the rectory, and Robert the Chaplain was vicar. But soon after the living appears as a rectory and so continued. About the middle of the 13th century Ellis, son of William Fitzellis, granted all the tithes on his demesne at Tiddington to Studley Priory, with the proviso that if a chaplain were thought necessary in his chapel at Tiddington the nuns should not be responsible for payments to him. This charter was confirmed by the Bishop of Lincoln. These tithes were probably commuted for a pension, for in 1535 the Prioress of Studley was receiving 6s. 8d. a year from the Rector of Albury.
In the Middle Ages the living was a poor one. In 1254 it was valued at 3 marks; it was presumably too poor to be included in the Taxatio of 1291, and in the 14th century it was valued at£3 6s. 8d. By 1526 the rector was receiving £6 13s. 4d. in all, from which he paid a curate £4, and in 1535 the net value was £9 2s. 8d. By the early 19th century the value of the living had risen to £300, and in 1953 its net value was £548. In 1839 and 1847 the tithes of Tiddington and Albury were respectively commuted for £162 and £175 a year. The tithe award of Albury was slightly altered in 1865 to allow for the 10 acres sold to the railway.
In addition to the tithes, there was a small rectory estate of two closes (23 a.) north of Fern Hill Wood; in 1685 it was believed that these two closes had been awarded to the rector in lieu of glebe when the parish was inclosed. He certainly had glebe land in the 14th century which was valued at 33s. 4d.
John Bowles, rector 1474–1517, seems to have lived at Albury, for his brass was in the old church. After his death the rectory was let to a layman but in 1526 William Brome, scholaris, and probably a relative of the lord of the manor, was rector.
One well-known 17th-century incumbent was Samuel Kem (1604–70), a graduate of Magdalen College and chaplain to Edward Wray, who presented him to Albury. Kem took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, and became chaplain to the Earl of Essex. Leaving his various livings in the care of curates, he both fought and preached for the parliamentary cause, and gained the reputation of a saint in the pulpit and a devil out of it. By 1651 he had returned to Albury, and at the Restoration took the necessary oaths to Charles II, ‘all to keep’, so it was said, ‘his living of Albury and the trade of eating and drinking’. In 1665 his rectory house was the largest in the village. He died in 1670 and is buried at Albury. Among Kem’s guests at the rectory was the alchemist and poet Thomas Vaughan, who died there in 1666.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Albury was frequently held in conjunction with the living of Wytham (Berks.), of which the Earls of Abingdon were also patrons. Their patronage of Albury, though used in the interest of the family on three occasions and of dependants or other connexions at other times, seems to have been also to the advantage of the parish. For example, Kem’s immediate successor, William Moor (buried in Rycote chapel), and afterwards William Tilley (1712–40), were both domestic chaplains to the earls. The latter had been a fellow of Corpus Christi College and a well-known preacher in Oxford. Once a supporter of Sacheverell, he later printed one of his own sermons preached at Albury favouring the Hanoverian succession to the throne. Hearne attacked him bitterly for this and for his remarks about high churchmen, ‘that he used formerly to caress so much’. He lived at Albury for 25 years, in the ‘faire parsonage house’, and evidently proved a good parish priest. He administered communion seven times a year, an unusual frequency, and had as many as 30 communicants. He tried to reduce absenteeism by presenting offenders in the bishop’s court, but without effect. Another resident rector was Christopher Robinson, D.D., who had thirteen children at Albury and died in 1802, at the age of 83. In his day communion was still well attended and the parishioners ‘attentive to their religious duties’. He was followed shortly afterwards by the Hon. Frederick Bertie, brother of the Earl of Abingdon, who, though he was a magistrate and held three other livings, declared he was always at Albury. He found the old rectory in a ‘very dilapidated state’ and an unfit residence for the rector. He built a new house in the Gothic style about 1819; the specifications of John Ackerman say that it was to be built largely from the materials of the old house and was to cost £684. He was also responsible for replacing the old church with a modern building (see below). Nevertheless, although congregations were rising elsewhere, Albury’s for some unexplained reason had fallen from 80 earlier in the century to 40 or 50 by 1866. The village was certainly decreasing in size but Tiddington was growing. In 1824 the latter had complained that its path to church was ‘often wet in winter and very out of repair’, but the churchwardens had undertaken to improve it. Perhaps Tiddington people preferred to go to Rycote chapel.
The old church at Albury, dedicated to ST. HELEN, was demolished in 1828; it comprised a small nave and chancel with a gabled roof, with three crosses. There was a square belfry with a pyramidal roof over the chancel arch. It had two Romanesque doorways, and a 14th-century east window. The present Romanesque font with zigzag ornament is the only relic of the building. The existing church was built in the Perpendicular style by Thomas Rickman in 1830, at the Earl of Abingdon’s expense. It comprises a nave, chancel, gallery, and bell-cote. A vestry was added in 1892 and a rood screen in 1917. The interior is fitted with oak benches. In 1953 it was lit with oil lamps and candles.
The Edwardian inventory of 1552 shows that the church was poorly furnished with one little chalice and silver paten, one vestment of ‘whit chamlet’, and one of ‘black sey’. The church was allowed to keep its chalice; (fn. 186) the present chalice, of which the bowl was renewed in 1665, is Elizabethan. The modern plate also includes a silver paten cover (1682), given by the rector William Moor, a handsome silver flagon (1631), and a beautiful silver two-handled porringer (1674).
In 1552 the church had two bells; of the two present bells, one dates from 1686 and is the work of Richard Green, while the other is 18th-century and probably cast at the Aldbourne foundry.
The registers survive from 1653, some being combined registers for the parishes of Albury, Holton, and Waterperry. They contain many entries about the Earl of Abingdon’s family.
There is no record of any dissent except for two Anabaptist families living in the parish in 1823, and in 1822 the house of William Tipping was licensed as a dissenting meeting-house.
Lady Mary Bertie was said in 1786 to have left £100 by will ‘of 1737’ for a school. The money had later been converted to a rent charge of £10. Until 1870 the income was used to subsidize what appears to have been a succession of private schools, sometimes held in Albury and sometimes in Tiddington. There was a master earlier in the century and a ‘dame’ later. No girls were mentioned among the pupils until 1846, though in 1819 there were private pupils as well as twelve boys supported out of the charity. Fees were apparently charged intermittently. A National school was founded in 1870 and its new building, comprising one room for 44 children, was opened in 1874. Fees were 1d.–2d. a week, and a night school was held. Since 1874 the school has had a certificated mistress and has received state aid. Attendance averaged about 30 until the senior pupils were transferred to Haseley in 1926. The school is now called Tiddington with Albury Church of England Primary School.
All information kindly provided by British History Online (BHO) : Citation – ‘Parishes: Albury (with Tiddington)’, in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred, ed. Mary D Lobel (London, 1957), pp. 8-14 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol5/pp8-14 [accessed 2 March 2016].