Boarstall (St. James)

BOARSTALL (St. James), a parish, in the union of Bicester, hundred of Ashendon, county of Buckingham, 7½ miles (S. S. E.) from Bicester; containing 252 inhabitants. This place formed part of the ancient demesnes of the Anglo-Saxon kings, who had a palace here, which was frequently the residence of Edward the Confessor, when enjoying the pleasure of the chase in Bernwood forest. According to tradition, corroborated by the records of the manor, the forest was at that time infested by a wild boar, which, after committing great depredation, was killed by a hunter named Nigel, to whom the king granted some lands here to be held by the tenure of cornage, or the service of a horn. Nigel erected a spacious manor-house on these lands, which continued in the possession of his descendants till the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the estate was conveyed by marriage to Richard de Handlo, who, in 1322, obtained permission of the king to fortify his mansion at Boarstall, and convert it into a castle. In the early part of the civil war, Boarstall Castle was garrisoned for the king, but was evacuated in 1644, and immediately seized by the parliamentarian forces stationed at Aylesbury: it was retaken by Col. Gage, and again garrisoned for the king; but, after holding out for some time, it was ultimately surrendered to General Fairfax, in 1646. The old mansion was demolished by the late Sir John Aubrey, and the only part remaining is the gateway tower, which is quadrangular and defended by embattled turrets at the angles, with portions of the moat by which it was surrounded, and over which is a bridge of two arches. The parish comprises by measurement 2550 acres, of which 100 are woodland, and the rest is divided between arable and pasture. It was formerly a chapelry in the parish of Oakley, from which it was separated in 1418. The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to that of Brill; impropriator, Sir T. D. Aubrey, Bart. The church erected in 1818 by Sir John Aubrey on the site of the former edifice, is a neat building.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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