Places and Maps
of South Leigh is intertwined with the history of Stanton Harcourt. It
was not until the 1630s that South Leigh had status as an independent
manor, 1773 before the boundaries between the two were clarified and 1868
that the chapelry of South Leigh became a separate parish. The first vicar
of South Leigh, Gerard Moultrie, was appointed
South Leigh is not named in the Domesday Book, being part of Stanton Harcourt held by Otto, Bishop of Bayeaux. The Stanton Harcourt woodland mentioned in the Domesday Book was probably Tar Wood. (Tar = tor =hill) In 1190 South Leigh was recorded as a forest clearing from Stanton Harcourt , with its own chapel. By 1279 about 40 households were noted and, other than a serious decline caused by the Black Death, the number of households remained at about 40 at the time of the first census in 1801. The 1851 peak of 359 people was soon depleted by emigration (particularly to (*2)New Zealand) in the period of agricultural depression in the 1860s and 1870s. The 1850s population level was not reached again until the 1980s by which time South Leigh was a dormitory village for commuters to Witney and Oxford.
South Leigh is 4 km south east of Witney and 13 km west of Oxford and bounded by Stanton Harcourt on the south east and Cogges on the west. Until 1974, the (*3)boundary with the County of Berkshire ran on the southern edge of Stanton Harcourt. Click here to see a map.
to Oxford road cuts across the north west tip and the River Windrush and
Standlake brook cross the southern boundary. On the western boundary runs
a Roman or pre-historic trackway. Romano-British coffins were found in
South Leigh near the River Windrush. The south east boundary with Stanton
Harcourt was not fixed until the Enclosure Award of 1773. The manor of
South Leigh had been bought in 1792 by John Sibthorpe, just in time to
benefit from the Enclosure Award. (*4)He cut down some 3000 oak and other
trees "for my repairs and my encloures" and employed 54 men as carpenters,
masons, hedgers, ditchers, roadmen and woodmen.
for this section, except where stated, is from the Victoria County history,Vol
XII (Wootton Hundred (South) including Woodstock), Oxford University Press;
(*2) On 23 December 1873 500 labourers and their families (including numbers from Oxfordshire) left Plymouth for New Zealand in the steamship Mongol, arriving on 13 February 1874. Their passages were paid for by the National Agricultural Labourers' Union. [Stevenson; Barracuda Guide to County History - Oxfordshire; Barracuda Books; 1977]
(*3) The Brogden descendants who can be found to this day in Cumnor are in fact living very close to South Leigh, as, of course, are those in Witney.
(*4) This information on John Sibthorpe's enclosures comes from Emery; The Oxfordshire Landscape; Hodder and Stoughton; 1974