Stainswick Lane, Shrivenham
Whilst the Beckett Estate was for a short period in Trust, at the beginning of the 19th century, the Manager was George Merryweather, who arrived in April 1815. One of his tasks was to produce a list of what the Manor of Beckett was responsible for, land, property, tithes, etc. For some of this he relied upon previous inventories, and it’s from one dated 1796 that we have a description of Cowleaze Farm.
Berks Record Office No: D/EX 447/2/1. Valuation of farms on the Barrington Estate, 1796.
Shrivenham Cowleaze Farm. In the occupation of John Badcock.
The premises consists of a House with 4 rooms on a floor. A Stable for 5 horses, brick built and thatched. A Cowhouse for tying up 14 cows with calves, stalls behind. An open shed for cattle. A Wainhouse for 2 waggons and 2 carts and an outhouse, pigscote etc, timber built and thatched.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t correspond with the description as listed by the Department for the Environment, Listed Buildings in the Vale of White Horse, in October 1983. They list the main building facing south as of 17th century origin and the red brick building projecting out to the south as a 19th century addition.
The farm, although being part of the Beckett Estate, was owned by Magdalen College, Oxford. This is confirmed by the Apportionment attached to the Tithe Map dated 1844. Here it lists all the fields and buildings attached to Cowleaze Farm as, ‘Lord Barrington, Leasehold under Magdalen College.’ The occupier at this time was Henry Lewis. This lends weight to the theory that Cowleaze was historically attached to the Manor of Stainswick, a close neighbour, as it too had been in the hands of Magdalen College for some time.
Towards the end of the 19th century we know from Kelly’s Directories that Edward Jefferies occupied the farm in 1887, and Walter Jefferies in 1895.
By 1927, local builder Len Knapp is listed as the occupier, but we have no confirmation if he had purchased it from Magdalen College or was leasing it from them.
Geoffrey and Pat Amor purchased Cowleaze Farm in 1960s, and whereas Geoffrey died a few years ago, his wife Pat is still there, now in her 90s. Her daughter Jane, with her husband Tony, now take care of Pat and the day-to-day running of the household. It is very obvious to see that the buildings are very well cared for and in a good state of repair. It’s equally obvious when talking to Jane that she has great affection for the property.
There is a small paddock fronting Stainswick Lane that was part of the farm, but was unfortunately detached by the seller when the Amor’s purchased it. In this paddock there is what appears to be an 18th century Cowshed. It is in a ruinous state of repair and about to collapse. This is a great pity and in order to at least record it’s existence, we’ve included it in a separate listing N1036 in this catalogue.
More evidence that Cowleaze and Stainswick Farms were connected, comes from a newspaper article dated in 1797. It's advertising the intended sale of what looks like everything, stock, equipment, animal feed etc:
Sat 18 March, 1797
For Sale by Auction, by W. Dore, on Wednesday the 29th March, 1797, and two following days, - All the Farming and Dairy Stock of Mr Frampton, of Staines Wick Farm, and Mr Badcock, of Cow Leaze Farm, near Shrivenham, Berks; comprising forty-six dairy cows; three Grazing Cows; Eight Cart Horses and Harness, One two-year old Colt, One Yearling ditto; Three Sows and Pigs, Three ditto in pig, a large Bean Rick, about Ninety Tons of fine Meadow Hay, a Quantity of Wheat, Beans, Barley, Straw, and Haum; Four Narrow – Wheel Waggons, Two Six-Inch – Wheel Carts, Drags, Harrows, large Roller, Cow Cribs, single and double Milk and Whey Leads, Cheese Presses, Dairy and Farming Utensils of every description, sundry Lots and Household Furniture, and Brewing Vessels, Fifteen Pockets of fine Hops, about One Hundred Sacks of Potatoes, a Yearling Bull from the noted Stock of Mr Fowler, of Rollwright, Oxon.
For the Convenience of Sale, the Stock of Mr Badcock will be removed to Staines Wick Farm.
Catalogues may be had in due Time at the principal Inns in Faringdon, Highworth, Swindon; the Barrington Arms, Shrivenham; the place of Sale; and of the Auctioneer, at Liddiard Tregooze. The Sale to begin each Day precisely at Eleven o’Clock.