One of the items of particular interest to be found in the archive is a blue and white Staffordshire tureen which is thought to date from 1855. The Mansion House is pictured on the saucer and the underside reads ‘Cokethorpe Park, Oxfordshire’.
The Bible from the Chapel in the grounds is also in the archive collection. It has over 1600 pages and dates back to 1822. Currently in a rather sorry state there are plans to have it professionally restored. In addition to the Bible there are two of three chained books which are referred to in documents about the Chapel.
Break out at the end of term? The Great Escape? No, it’s CCF (Combined Cadet Force) Training in the early days of Cokethorpe School – circa 1958!
Cokethorpe had a thriving CCF corps for many years and many old boys remember their time in it – some more fondly than others!
This accounts sheet from Home Farm at Cokethorpe, covering one week in September 1905, shows just how many people were employed to run the farm. Of course many of the men disappeared to fight in the First World War and with the advent of mechanisation, farming probably never returned to its pre-war state. The photo is of six of the Cokethorpe ‘Understaff’ in 1938. It isn’t known just how many people were employed to run the estate at this time but presumably many of the staff, both male and female, were called up for war duties in the Second World War.
This instalment of From the Archives is taken from a small booklet printed in 1926 – By Thames and Windrush written by William J Monk, Burford.
‘Old documents assert that this chapel was erected specially for the worship of the Virgin. It is further asserted that a picture of Our Lady was in the Church which was an object of great veneration. Outside was a well in which cures of all kinds took place under, it is said, the influence of the Virgin. Others say a hermitage stood here. If so, there is no notice of it in any records. More certain is the tradition that it was originally the Mother Church to Ducklington.’
‘It seems certain that the present font was the same that belonged to the original edifice. It is a massive structure, cylindrical in form without a plinth or pedestal, and formed of one single block of stone. A moulding around the middle supports a series of small columns – alternately doubled and cabled with Romanesque capitals from which spring two series of semi-circular arches interlacing each other.’
As well as the account of Cokethorpe, the advertisements in the book are equally interesting. The advertisement for George Smith, 23 George Street, Oxford (now a Chinese restaurant) advertises Lounge Suits from 90/-!
Whilst doing some research for an article for The Ocellus, the sales particulars for Cokethorpe Park estate in 1954 were discovered. The guide price for the freehold of the estate with about ten acres (with a further 150 acres available for separate purchase) was a mere £17,500.
The Mansion House was described as a ‘Lovely Georgian House’ with ‘five Reception rooms, eleven principal Bed and Dressing rooms, two Nurseries, three principal Bathrooms, eight Top floor Bedrooms with two Bathrooms’.
The Headmaster’s Study was described as ‘The Smoke Room’ and the Round House ‘a picturesque old circular building of considerable antiquity’. Drainage was stated to be ‘on modern principles’, however there was no further explanation as to what those principles were.
The last 59 years have seen huge changes to The Mansion House and estate!
The Strickland family lived at Cokethorpe Park during the 19th Century. Walter Strickland kept detailed accounts ledgers which are currently on loan to the archive.
The books give a wonderful insight into the lives of the masters of the house and their staff. Below are some entries from 1840.
‘Mrs Walton for 8 weeks board wages from Saturday September 5 to Saturday October 31 for herself at 10/- and 4 maids at 7/- £15.4s.0d. Earlier that year Mr Strickland had paid a bill ‘to Messrs. Cockburn and Archbold for claret had last January - £79.19s.0d’ which was a massive sum of money then. Unfortunately it is not recorded how much claret there was! On November 3 he paid 18s6d for stilton cheese – this was more than twice the weekly salary of the maids.