Woodford Halse Archive

Woodford Short History

Enclosure, Farms & Manor Houses

In the 17th and 18th Centuries, many open fields across England were enclosed by land owners. Enclosures began in Northamptonshire in 1727, reaching Hinton in 1753, Woodford in 1759 and West Farndon in 1761. At the same time as fields were enclosed, public roads were identified to make it easier to travel between villages where the fields had been enclosed. These public roads are the basis of the network of lanes in and around Woodford Halse today. The word “lane” is a memory of the the enclosure of the open fields; it means “hedged on either side”.

Around the middle of the 17th century many of the old houses of Woodford Halse – probably originally built with cob walls (made of earth, cow dung, straw and lime) on a shallow foundation of stones and with thatched roofs - would have been rebuilt in stone. It is still possible to see what may be the original foundations for cob as shallow plinths at the foot of some of Woodford’s old stone buildings.

By the end of the 17th Century, Woodford was made up of a number of houses along what is now School Street, High Street, Quinton Lane and Parsons Street. Between the Church and High Street was an area of glebe land belonging to the church.

Hinton too was a cluster of stone houses around Pool Street and Hinton Road while West Farndon would have been larger than it is today, with houses clustered around where the farms are now.

There were a few larger houses. Some were the house of farmers – Jaffe House, Vicarage Cottage, Top Farm, Tews Farm and Pool Farm all date from the late 17th Century. There was certainly one manor house. Hinton Manor – at the junction of Phipps Road and Hinton Road- was begun in 1695 and was intended for the use of the Lord of the Manor although it was never finished as intended. Woodford Manor, a grand building on School Street dating from the 17th Century was never occupied by a Lord of the Manor since Woodford and Farndon were still part of the Manor of Halse. Perhaps a steward responsible for the village was housed in the house that preceded it. Before Woodford became part of the manor of Halse it would have had its own manor house but so far it has not been identified. Equally, Manor Farm in Farndon may have housed a steward for that part of Halse.

Woodford’s farming was a mixture of animal rearing and crop growing. Farmers would often butcher their own animals but for grinding corn they would rely on one of the mills in the parish. In 1786 there were at least two mills nearby; records show a Thomas Jessop took out insurance policies on his mills at “Farnton” (later known as Woodford Mill at the foot of Barnett’ Hill on the road between Hinton and Eydon) and at Burnt Mill (actually in Eydon parish). These were both water mills. There were also windmills, probably wooden built post mills. One was at Woodfordhill on the road towards Canons Ashby and the other on the Farndon Road from Hinton just before where the railway bridge is now.

By kind permission of John Williams