Hinton is an Anglo-Saxon village name meaning “high settlement”. It’s recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1085 as “Hentone”, the lord of the manor being Odo of Winchester. Early in the 12th Century, ownership of the manor was granted by Henry I to Guy de St Valery. The manor remained in the St Valery family until 1327, and the village became known as Hinton St Valery – subsequently corrupted to Hinton Waldrist. (As a sidenote, old maps show a number of variations of the village name including Hinton Walericus, Hinton Waldrith and Hinton Waldridge. The map shown here is the 1880 Ordnance Survey).
In 1332, the manor came into the hands of William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton. His grand-daughter Mary de Bohun, who grew up in Hinton, later became the mother of King Henry V. On the death of Henry V, Hinton Manor was granted to his widow Catharine, and it remained in the hands of the crown for another two hundred years. The present house dates from that period – it was built by Dr George Owen, Royal Physician, in about 1550.
The Marten Family
In 1627, Charles I leased Hinton Manor to Sir Henry Marten, judge of the High Court of Admiralty. His son Henry Marten was a prominent republican and ally of Oliver Cromwell. Marten was one of the signatories on the death warrant of Charles I in 1649 – a so-called “regicide”. Although he owned Hinton Manor, Henry Marten’s principle residence was Longworth House, which was in what is now Southmoor (but demolished in 2018 to make way for a housing estate). Perhaps surprisingly, he was not sentenced to death by Charles II after the Restoration, but was imprisoned in Chepstow Castle until his death in 1680.
The Loder Symonds Family
John Loder purchased Hinton Manor in 1668 as part of a deal by Henry Marten to clear his debts. The Loder family, which became the Loder Symonds family after the property was passed down through a Loder daughter who married Robert Symonds, occupied the Manor until 1934.
The family owned the entire parish of Hinton Waldrist and a large part of the parish of Longworth, and prospered as gentleman farmers through many generations. A great-grandson of the original John Loder, also called John, and shown here in this 1755 portrait, founded the Old Berks Hunt in 1760. The hunt kennels were located at Hinton Manor from 1760 to 1814. John Loder passed on the Mastership of the Old Berks to his son-in-law Robert Symonds in 1800.
As well as being “lords of the manor”, three members of the Loder Symonds family also occupied the position of Rector, namely Rev Seymour Loder (1717-1743), Rev John Loder (1749-1802), and Rev Robert Symonds (1802-1836). At least one descendant of the Loder Symonds family still lives in Hinton, a great-granddaughter of Captain F C Loder-Symonds.
The Manor in the Twentieth Century
The Loder Symonds family tragically lost four of its number in the Great War, three of them officers in infantry regiments and the fourth in the RAF. In 1934, the family sold Hinton Manor to Nicholas Davenport, a journalist, author and commentator on City affairs. Davenport did much to restore the house and garden, and published a book about this in 1978: The Honour of St Valery, The Story of an English Manor House. Davenport was a man of many parts. In the early 1940s he was the Financial Director of Capitol Film Productions, and he is credited with the “discovery” of Deborah Kerr, a major film star in the forties and fifties, when she was a young theatre actress with the Oxford Repertory Company. For a short time, Kerr was a regular visitor to the Manor.
The Davenports sold the Manor to the Sherwoods in 1979.
Airey Neave DSO OBE MC
From the early 1970s until his murder by the Irish National Liberation Army in 1979, Airey Neave and his wife Diana lived at The Old Rectory. Neave was the MP for Abingdon from 1953 until his death, when he held the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Norther Ireland in the Conservative Party, under Margaret Thatcher. Neave had an illustrious war time career. Captured by the Germans in 1940, he escaped from Stalag XX-A in Poland in 1941 only to be re-captured and sent to Colditz Castle. His first attempt to escape from Colditz failed because his hastily-contrived German uniform was completely the wrong colour – he was apparently colour-blind. But his second attempt succeeded, and he became the first British Officer to make the “home run” from Colditz. He was awarded the Military Cross on his return to England. He wrote a book about his escape exploits – They Have Their Exits. Neave was killed by a car bomb as he exited the House of Commons car park. He is buried in the graveyard at Hinton Waldrist.
An Elementary School was built in Hinton in 1850 by John Loder Symonds, together with a school-house next door for the head teacher (now Grange Cottage). The school was subsequently enlarged in 1870 to take 100 children. There were about 70 pupils in the early 1930s, but numbers gradually declined, and by the early 1960s there were only 9 pupils. The school closed in 1966 and the school and school-house sold as private houses.
The Village Shop
For such a small village, Hinton was lucky to have had a village shop right up to 1995. In the early part of the century, the village shop had a vital role in supplying the locals with everything from meat and groceries to drapery and hardware. Pigs were kept in the back garden and slaughtered weekly, while frozen lambs, and ice to keep the meat fresh, were delivered from Oxford. Other goods were collected from Challow station.
In those days very few people had cars, so the shop made weekly deliveries by van to places as far afield as Appleton, Sparsholt and the Hanneys. The photo here (from the Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive) shows the village shop at around 1900. Sisters Greta and Edna Barber ran the shop from 1951 until their retirement in 1995.
The Old Rectory
The Old Rectory is the oldest domestic building in the village. It originated as mediaeval hall-house of cruck-beam construction, and has been dated as late fourteenth century. This type of construction involved massive oak frames consisting of two curved beams from ground level meeting at the apex of the roof. There are two sets of cruck frames in the Old Rectory, and the beams are 40 cm across at their thickest point. According to John Fletcher in his paper on Crucks in West Berkshire and Oxford Region, it was around A.D. 1400 that cruck houses started to be built in this area by prosperous peasants emerging from the aftermath of the Black Death. A cross-wing was added around 1600, and a further, larger cross-wing which is now the front of the house was added in 1840.
Revd John Cole, who was Rector of Hinton from 1935 to 1944, wrote a war-time diary that provides some fascinating insights into village life during the war years. His great-nephew Jeremy Knight, who quite coincidentally lives in Hinton, kindly provided a copy of this diary which we have been able to transcribe.
Click here for Revd John Cole’s wartime diary.
Census of 1871
Census records provide a fascinating snapshot of the people living in the village at a given time. Click here to download copies of the census pages from Hinton in 1871 (5MB file). They show, for each dwelling in the village, the names and occupations of those in residence. For example, the first page shows no fewer than 13 people residing at the Rectory, including the Rector William Jephson, his wife Elizabeth, 5 children, and 6 servants including cook, coachman, footman, laundry maid, house maid and scullery maid. As an illustration of how times have changed, the census records include a column to note whether an individual was Deaf-and-Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, or Lunatic. The list for Hinton shows one blind person and one “idiot”.
Acknowledgements and More Information
“The Parish of Hinton Waldrist, a sense of place” published by Thematic Trails is an excellent source, and much of the material on this page is based on it. Copies are on sale at Southmoor Post Office.
A detailed early history of the parish is available on this page at British History Online.
The map below shows Hinton as it was towards the end of the 19th Century.