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Oxenford : Potted History Church Report 1590 Oxenford Gatehouse Oxenford Barn Bonville Spring Oxenford Bridge The Hydraulic Ram Water Pump

Built by, Augustus Welby Pugin

Photo of Pugin Pugins Motto Book cover of Pugin

Close to the site of the original Peper Harow House, Oxenford Farm was designed by Pugin and now supplies Christmas Trees. It is worth visiting for the architectural background to Oxenford.

Oxenford was first a medieval dependency of Waverley and then the original site of Peper Harow House. It now consists of a big 17th century farmhouse, Oxenford Grange, and two farm buildings designed by Pugin in 1843, a barn and a gatehouse, which are considered to be among his best buildings.

A potted history of Oxenford.

Oxenford pond

Sometime before 1147 Richard de Aquila granted Oxenford to Waverley Abbey, and this grant was continued in 1147 by a papal bull. From then until 1536 Oxenford was a Cistercian monastery farming for Waverley Abbey.

In 1536, in the reign of the Henry VIII, it was granted to Sir William Fitz-Williams, Earl of Southampton, together with the other estates of the monks of Waverley. Eight years later, in 1548, it was passed under a settlement to his half-brother Sir Anthony Brown and then to his son Viscount Montacute. According to the Loseley manuscripts there was a house there occupied by Anthony Garnett, secretary to Lord Montacute. Mr Lusher, probably of Elstead, who was a nephew of Anthony Garnett, then leased it, followed by a Mr Spencer who was considered to be a Romanist of doubtful loyalty.

In 1624 John Chesterton, who then owned Oxenford, died and the estate was divided between his three daughters. Two shares were bought by Sir John Platt of Westbrook in Godalming and the third share by Chesterton Fox of Godalming. Sir John Platt sold his shares to Denzil Lord Holles in 1676; after the latter’s death an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the sale of the estate to pay his debts. In 1699 Philip Frowde bought it with the rest of the Peper Harow Estate and in 1713 it was bought by Alan Brodrick, later Viscount Midleton.

The third share that Chesterton Fox owned was sold to the Stillwells of Mousehill and this was bought from them, together with the Mousehill Estate, in 1822.

In 1881 Henry Evershed Carter became a tenant of Oxenford and Amberley, taking over from William Chalcroft, but within five years he had given them up and Mr Lewry took on Amberley.

On September 29th 1887 Mr Jonas Baker leased land totalling 129 acres, 22 poles, including Bagmoor Cottage, for £100 per annum. He was obviously a man of means, for by 1896 he had also acquired 135 acres in Witley Parish and 36 poles in Thursley Parish.

A few notes on the buildings
Pre-1147 to 1536: monastery
1548: probable first dwelling

Albinia, widow of the third Viscount, lived in and enlarged the old building of the Grange. The fourth Viscount also lived there while the new mansion of Peper Harow was being built.

1775: with the new Peper Harow mansion built most of the Grange was pulled down except what was converted into a Cottage and what is now covered with ivy. 1841-1848 Pugin built a group of extravagant Gothic farm buildings, i.e. the Barn, Cowfold, the Gatehouse, Bonville Spring, Oxenford Bridge and the Chapel Ruin and rebuilt the rear of the farmhouse and its chimneys.

A report of saucy goings on in 1590...

John Hope, Vicar of Blewbury from 1588 to 1622.
Recorded in the Blewbury Church Warden Presentments for about 1590

"We present that our curate Sir Henry Weynwright doth not inform the youth of the parish in their catechism as by the queen's instructions are appointed.
The said Sir Henry Weynwright is suspected of incontinent living with one Joan Massy who he sayeth is his kinswoman for presumption whereof we find that the said Joan doth sundry time resort to the house of the parson Sir Henry secretly and suspicion lie and the said Sir Henry and Joan were once attached in Oxenford and entered into 'buccardo' for the same."

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Oxenford Gatehouse

Oxenford Gatehouse from North East Oxenford Gatehouse from South West

The Gate House, the barn and associated structures, plus the house make a lovely group of buildings.

In 1842 Pugin designed and Myers built the Gate House it is a substantial building with accomodation above it.

There is a turret with a weather vane and a huge arched gateway with stone lions heads either side. On the inner boss of the arch is carved Lord Midleton's coat of arms and on the outer boss is carved an ox crossing a ford, hence Oxenford.

(Info from

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Oxenford Barn

Oxenford Barn Interior Oxenford Barn from North East

The barn is so attractive and to find it in its original use is really gratifying.

It is large, sturdy and smelling wonderfully of hay, with its lofty roof structure huge barn doors and cows mooing in the yard it felt truly right.

Pugin's theory of 'natural architecture':'In matters of ordinary use a man must go out of his way to make a bad thing.'

(Info from

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Bonville Spring

Bonville Spring Internal Doorway

This is an enchanting stone gothic archway, is at OS ref: SU 9387E 4319N

Built by Pugin between 1841-1848 with other extravagant Gothic buildings at Oxenford.
Bonville Spring, locally known as The Lions Mouth is a stone folly built into the side of the hill in Bonville Hanger wood.

Inside is a stone bench and on the right is a doorway to the spring with the Lions Mouth a flowing fresh water spring.

In its early days this spring was called Bonfield Spring, this was probably a Saxon holy place, with its 'holy well' and being close to the River Wey.

The Coat of Arms The Ribed Ceiling The Lions Mouth ! Bonville Spring

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Oxenford Bridge

Oxenford Bridge from West.
Oxenford Bridge from East.

This Bridge over the river Wey to Oxenford is a very pretty bridge, built of brick and stone with iron railings, it has three arches, and is single track, and was once the main entrance to Peper Harow House.

The south side of this bridge forms a boundary between Oxenford meadow land and farmland to the north, and has a closed & locked gate, which is only opened once a year to allow pedestrians to go to the May-Day point-to point races.

It has at present ivy growing all over it, which makes it all the more enchanting.

It would make a nice little project to cut back some of the excess ivy before it does an damage to the structure.

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The Hydraulic Ram

Hydraulic Ram Header Tank !
Hydraulic Ram Pump Houses !

This oddity is in the north west corner of Oxenford meadow near the Deer Bridge, at OS ref: SU 9299E 4387N

This a pump house, there is an pressure vessel and bolts where the waste gate was bolted down, possibly to pump water to Oxenford Grange across the meadow ?.

I am told that there is another one of these at Eashing.

Hydraulic Ram Header Tank !
Hydraulic Ram Pressure Vessel & Valve

This is a river water driven water pump and dates from about 1820.
The water to a higher level, the liklyhood is that it was pumping water up to the header tank and used for irrigation, the header tank pipe has a flap cap on the end (shown open) to prevent the flow returning to the pump house.

The flow from the river flows out of the waste gate, this builds up kinetic energy in the water supply pipe, the flow then closes the waste gate, and the flow is diverted up through a valve and along the delivery pipe, as the flows slows and waste gate opens again and the flow quickens for the next pump.

The pressure vessel on the delivery side of the valve is to smooth out the squirts.

These hydralic rams made a clacking sound as the waste gate valve opens and closes at about 1-2 second intervals.

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Water Pump Base.

Water Pump Base

This is by the river on the Oxenford side, at about OS ref: SU 9381E 4334N and a pipe leads uphill towards the Lions Mouth at Bonville Spring.
There was probably a diesel water pump here, pumping water from the river to the fields on the south side of Bonville Hanger wood.

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