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Hill Hampton

Hill Hampton farmhouse today

We have records of a farm at Hill Hampton (as it is currently spelled) dating back to the thirteenth century, and the farm features prominently in Bishop Waynflete’s gift of Oxenbourne land to Magdalene College (click here). The farmhouse we see today was built at the end of the eighteenth century, clad in local malmstone which was excavated from one of the ponds in front of the building. The tenant was Dr Edward Bentham, Dean of Christchurch College in Oxford, who died in 1776, or his widow who inherited the estate. We do not know whether Magdalene College, as owner of the land, or Dr Bentham, as leaseholder, would have met the cost of building this impressive farmhouse: landlords traditionally invested fixed capital for buildings and land improvement, whilst the tenant provided the working capital such as seeds and implements. The motive was to attract a prosperous tenant and a higher rent. This was a golden period for farmers; between 1750 and 1790 corn prices rose strongly and rents trebled.  The new house incorporated some of the features of the earlier, traditional, farmhouse; it has a central chimney and two hearths, on the eastern side serving the parlour of the farmer’s family and on the western side the kitchen in which the whole household would have cooked and ate their meals. An extra wing to the north-east of the main house probably accommodated a separate family, possibly relatives; service areas to the west of the farmhouse extended towards the farmyard. Underpinning the growth of farms like South Farm, Bereleigh and Hill Hampton was the gradual corrosion of the open field system and the consolidation of lands into individual ownership.