Village History

Westbury, meaning ‘burg’ fort or castle, has existed since before the Domesday book, written in 1086, and the following is an extract from a presentation on the history of the village given in May 2008.

Further information about Westbury can be found on the British History Online website.

The Doomsday Survey 1085/6
  • 1005-1066 Ainukd Cilt, held the Manor of Westbury under King Edward the Confessor
  • 1085/86The Manor formed part of the vast possessions of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, William the Conquerer’s half brother. The holder being a cetain Roger D’Iveri.
  • Roger holds of the Bishop two hides and a half in Westbury for one manor. The arable is seven carucates; two are in the demesne (the Lord’s seat) and there are four copyholders or villeins and thress cottagers or borders. There is one servant. Fiver carucates of meadow. Mast of 150 hogs. It is worth £3.00, when he received it, 50 shillings.
  • A hide – a Saxon measure of land which could support one family (40-120 acres).
  • The carucate was a Norman area of land which couldbe ploughed by one team in a yearand is considered by some to be like a hide, 120 acres.
  • Mention of Hunts Mill in the South Eastern Corner of the village (Hunts Mill Farm).
An Aerial view highlighting Orchard Place, the area of the Saxon Entrenchment Camp
An Aerial view highlighting Orchard Place, the area of the Saxon Entrenchment Camp
Site of Hunts Mill, south east corner of Westbury, 1939
Site of Hunts Mill, south east corner of Westbury. 1939.

Snippets from the distant past
  • 1220 The first recorded Church built in Westbury.
  • 1223 The Manor passed into the hand of the L’Estrange family who appear to have retained it until 1613.
  • 1224 Jordanus, the first appointed Vicar
  • C.1260 Roger the Parish Clerk sublet William one and a half acres or six shillings. Roger paid an annual rent of one rose to Sir James le Salvager for the same land. This land was above the ‘bottes’, possibly the butts used for archery practice. South of the Church. (Edward IV reign was a fine of 1/2 penny for not practicing on feast days).
  • C 1450 Church Yard enclosed. 1458 Alice Terry leaves 20 shillings in her will to the new bells of the Church.
    1538 Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry V111.What did this mean for Westbury, a parish described as unusually generous to such establishments?
  • 1556 John Morden of Westbury stole a chalice from the Church and sold it on for 30 shillings, which he had to pay back.
  • 1608 first mention of the Mill on the western corner of the village rented from L’Estrange dor 131/2 d, 2lb of wax and a pair of spurs.
  • 1613 the Manor is sold to Laurence Washington (the Wellesbournes of Fulwell).
  • 1629 the Manor is sold to Sir Thomas Lyttleton, a Royalist, leading to the plundering of the property by the Parliamentary forces.
  • 1644 on June 26th Charles I marched from Buckingham through Westbury with an army of 4000 foot, 4000 horse and 10 gund, three days before the Battle of Cropredy Bridge.
  • 1647 Vicar Thomas Dance leaves in his will a feather bed and bolster, four pairs of sheets, a riding suit and a pair of blankets.
  • 1650 the Manor is sold cheaply to a London merchant Roger Price.
The Price Family 1650 – 1854
  • 1650-1680 The Vicarage, Yew Tree House, The Old Post Office and Home Farm are built. Mill Farm is added in 1704.
  • 1660 The Yew tree in the Churchyard is planted.
  • 1681 Rebecca Price starts compiling her recipe book adding nearly 1000 recipes up until her death in 1740.
    As a child Rebecca is said to have played at ‘the old mill and the old cottages around it’.
  • 1709 Pre-nuptial agreement on marriage of Thomas Price to Mary Cambell.
    But what of the enclosureds act?
  • Poor Law Code – Poor rates. Nov 1st 1762 ‘Westbury complains that William Barnes, aged 14, Thomas Barnes, aged 11, have intruded from Shalston. Justices R. Dayrell and H. Grey order their removal to Westbury.
Poverty – An issue through to the 20th Century

In the 1960’s older residents in the village recalled walking 4 miles to and then back from work in the fields and having nothing but bread and milk for their dinner. Several poor societies, The Wilds, and later The Westbury Benefit Society and the Loyal Barrington Lodge of the Independent Society of Odd Fellows. Charitable work is still carried out in the village today through The Wilds and the Village Club, but about good causes rather than the poverty of the past.Up until the 1930’s children turned up to school with no boots and some were off school for months with prolonged illnesses.

Names from the past

Christian names: Diggery, Greezil, Athanasius, Tertulian, Anastatius, Jillian, Scipia, Isserell, Eglantine, Alphonsus, Cleophas, Saphira, Hephzebah, Guimomford, Gedeon, Omega, Dargess

Surnames: Penn, Letty, Brestow, Chrocherad, Snopell, Pennbur, Leapew, Datid, Pharran, Cochr, Picit, Cadwellonder, Verderill, Scocraft, Ffencer, Gailing, Hubber, Loveday, Bantoot, Munck, Syrat, Truss, Surat, Ingolles, Showlers, Sills, Prices, Shepherds, Mays, Tappings, Treadwell, Pollards, Watts, Blackwells, Makespeaces, Perkins, Walkers.

Westbury Manor c 1769
Westbury Manor coat of arms
The Price family ‘devotion’ to the village was expressed in many practical ways.
Westbury Benefit Society marching in Main Street June 1879
Westbury Benefit Society marching in Main Street June 1879

The Hon. Percy Barrington. Owner of the Manor 1854 – 1901
  • Donated land to extend the churchyard
  • Restoration of the Church by Mr Franklin of Deddington
  • A new Church organ
  • 1861 involvement in the building of the first national school in the village, providing the site. At a big meeting Barrington told the children “Now you will have to go to the new school. No more going to the old Dame School for lessons”
  • Giving his farming tennants dinner at the Swan and Castle in Buckingham every Quarter Day, when they paid their rent
  • Socially, at the Westbury Choir Festival in January 1871 his daughther “played splendidly in spite of the intense cold in the schoolroom. Mr Walter Barrington (the son and heir) sang a comic song which was received with shouts of applause.”
  • 1877 Littleworth cottages built.
  • 1st August 1879 Fulwell Station opened the first train from Buckingham stopping as the Tingewick Brass Band played ‘Let the Hills Resound’, followed by ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’ with the arrival of the train from Brackley.
  • 1892 a new reading room, as the 30 members had outgrown the old reading room in a cottage on Blacksmith’s Hill.
  • Three model cottages next door to the Reindeer Inn.
  • C 1898 Lord Barrington rented the Manor to Mr William Swire, who although only in the village for a few years, left with happy memories. They used to throw open the Manor grounds for all the village children and created something of a classless relationship. One of the Swires entertained/babysat village children whilst the Vicar’s wife held a Mother’s Meeting with 30 attendees.

Lord Barrington died in 1901 and was buried in Westbury. Wilfred Turner, the son of the 1870’s Blacksmith recalled the funeral “Westbury had a lovely choir in those days. I was a kid and we had to go and sing at his funeral. I always remember the good feed we had down there!” The grave was lined with lillies of the valley and freesias from the Manor hothouses.

Fulwell Station c 1950’s,
Fulwell Station c 1950’s, closed Dec 3rd 1960
Westbury post office cart
Possibly the Post Office cart/taxi for trips to Brackley

  • 1750’s Westbury had a Dame School
  • 1855 most married couples could not sign their name at the Church register
  • 1861 First school built in the High Street
  • 1870 Adult education lessons given by Rev. Ussher and the School Master
  • 1883 84 children in the school aged 3 – 11
  • 1936 1st Feb Children given a lesson on stone throwing and its dangers
  • 1936 1st July Miss Hammond the teacher died
  • 1936 1st Sept the first evacuees arrived. 20 children and 3 teachers.
  • 1941 a trip to Buckingham cinema
  • 1942 Guests at the Italian Prisoner of war camp
  • 1968 The Modern School built
Westbury School
Westbury School
Unknown faces, possibly Westbury teachers
Unknown faces, possibly teachers

Arrival of the Scotts 1901-1931
  • When Sir Samual Scott bought the Manor and Estate of Westbury in 1901, it included the whole of the village, with the exception of the school and Reindeer Public House and six dairy, stock and mixed farms. There was a population of approximately 400.
  • Scott was a Major in the Household Cavalry and became Personal Military Secretary to the Secretary of State in War in 1917.
  • Married to Lady Sophie Cadogan (died 1937).
  • One son born and died in 1902.
  • 1934 photograph of Lady Sophie with her daughters – National Portrait Gallery Archives.
  • New York Times, 4th April 1899 ref Lady Sophie Scott aged 25 – ‘Her ladyship drove out shopping on the 17th and dismissed her coachman in Bond Street and has not been seen since. The family is in a great state of consternation over her dissappearance’.
  • Their lifestyle was very grand, with a house in Mayfair and Amhuinnsuidhe Castel, North Harris.
  • Friend with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII.
  • Greatly enlarged Manor to include 5 reception rooms, 15 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.
  • Winifred Watkins, daughter of Henry Watkins who came to the village as its Policeman in 1900, recalls the Scotts brought a lot of foreigners of some sort, they used to quarrel with the village people; I suppose they couldn’t make each other understood. I think that was why my father was sent to Westbury, to keep the peace.
  • In later years, Cyril Turner, grandson of the Village Blacksmith of the time, likened the Scott’s household to ‘the TV series Upstairs, Downstairs, but Westbury was larger and not so cosy.’
  • The House staff were outsiders, but the gardening and stable staff were generally villagers.
  • The Scott’s were the first car owners in the village, driving a Hotchkiss and Daimler.
  • The kitchen gardens stood on the site of the Primary School, now 24 houses.
  • Remembered as good landlords, in practical ways, like keeping buildings in repair. They laid on piped water and main drainage, paid for a clubhouse and bar extension at the Reading Roon and build White City.
  • The Scotts were rarely in the village together. She is remembered very much as the Grande Dame, strolling through the village followed by 10-12 Highland Terriers chatting to those she knew. If anyone in the village was ill, she would send the Housekeeper to them with dinner. She provided presents for the children at Christmas.
  • Tuesday 28th July 1931, the Scotts sold the Manor due to financial problems.
Looking North up the High Street, Westbury
Looking North up the High Street, Old Post Office on the far right and Manor Farm immediately right

At the time of the Scotts arrival, the village had a Butcher at Yew Tree House, a Post Office and Store at the Old Post Office, a Carpenters and Wheelwrights shop near Mill Farm on the High Street, a Smithy adjacent to Elm Farm House, a Shoe and Boot maker 51, White City, a district nurse in a White City Cotttage and a very successful Flour Mill. There was a Baker still in the 1890’s in a cottage down Mill Lane, but by 1900 the village was reliant on bread from Tingewick if they could not bake it themselves. Fish came from several sources, including the Post Office who fetched a barrel of herring from Banbury.

The Pig Insurance Club

Westbury had a pig insurance club and at the Annual General Meeting in 1903 the accounts showed 69 pigs insured and one new member. There were no losses that year in 1900. £3.15Od had been paid to members whose pigs had died.

Westbury Pig Insurance images

Church and Parish
  • The Church was central to the life of most villages for centuries. Up until the death of Rev. Ussher, most villagers attended up to two services a day. A 100 years ago, the choir was a source of great pride in the village and with practise on a Wednesday night boys and men only. They participated in may festivals and competitions.
  • In the 1901 confirmation services there were 55 children, 19 of whom were from Westbury. The others came from Shalstone, Mixbury and Turweston.
  • Until the late 19th Century, parishes were administered by parishioners assembled in a meeting called the Vestry. It was an administrative as well as ecclesiastical unit.
  • It was made up of the Vicar (Chair), the Church Warden, two Poor Relief Overseers and one Guardian to administer the Poor Law of the larger grouping of parishes comprising the Union: two Constables and two Surveyors of the Highways.
  • At its meeting on 21st March, the Vestry, without an recorded explanation, and before the Parish Councils’ Act of 1894, changed its name to Parish meeting. With the arrival of Richard Ussher as Vicar in 1898 it returned to its old title of Vestry.
  • They administered the Wilds fund, sold rights to collect manure from the road side ‘bite and scrape’, repaired the roads and dealt with the upkeep of the Church.
  • In the first half of the 19th Century, sparrows were a great problem locally and villagers were paid to kill them. In 1817, 93 dozen sparrows were paid for, 1 shilling for 4 dozen.
  • Today there is a Church Council and a separate Parish Council. Many of the duties they had in the past are undertaken by the District or County Councils.
The Barracks, Orchard Place c. 1900
The Barracks, Orchard Place c. 1900, replaced by Swedish prefabricated after WW2
Mrs Johnson, Westbury lacemaker, 1913.
The Barracks was home to Mrs Johnson, lacemaker. 1913

  • 3 penny hop at Shalstone each week
  • Church
  • Choir
  • Reading
  • Dancing on the Manor lawn June 1911 celebrating the Coronation of King George and Queen Mary
  • Rifle Club
  • Working Men’s Club
  • Mothers Union
  • Girls Friendly Society
  • Cricket and Football
  • Westbury Feast – a week of celebrations – bands, matches, fairs and feasts
  • Flower Show until 1929, revived in 1976
  • Harvest Supper
  • New Year Servants Ball in The Manor, covered Tennis Court
  • Point to Point
  • Hunting
  • Bridge
World War
  • 51 young men went off to war from Westbury
  • 11 were killed
  • 3 of the 4 Ussher boys were killed WW1
  • John Wilson recalls the land girls drinking tea and warming up around the Aga at Home Farm House with his mother in WWII. He also told a story about a land girl crossing the railway line past Mill Field and nearly being hit by a train.
  • Nov 11th 1918 the Booth steam engines, ploughing the fields, blew their whistles extensively to celebrate the end.
  • There was tea in the Tennis Court and a large bonfire was lit on top which was placed ‘Kaiser Bill’ who was shot when the fire was lit.
Westbury May Day celebrations early 1900’s
May Day celebrations early 1900’s beginning at the Barracks, followed by parading the ‘Garland’ around the village
Westbury May Day
Another May Day
Westbury Cricket Club 1909
The village junior cricket club, 1909
Westbury Men's Washing Competition, 1911
Mens washing competition at the flower show, 1911

And the story continues in pictures:
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