Records about the College estates
Before the end of the nineteenth century much of the income of Oxford colleges came from the ownership of land throughout the country. Most of these estates were given by benefactors who conveyed the property to their chosen college as a gift, for example to fund a scholarship or fellowship. Since its foundation in 1509 Brasenose has owned over two hundred estates or smaller properties in some twenty counties, most of which were sold between 1870 and 1970. A complete list of College estates can be found here
Most early documents relating to estates (c.12th-18th centuries) were calendared by Herbert Hurst in 1898. These are mostly early deeds (including manorial records and leases). These will almost invariably apply to whole estates and not to individual buildings.
Many records dating from the 19th century onwards have not yet been listed or catalogued. The Archivist is currently working on updating the estates catalogues but due to the number of estates (and records) this is an on-going process. Catalogues will be made available online as they are completed but please see the general summary of these records for more information. Please also see the archives contact page for current information about disrupted access to many of the estates records.
Other sources, which are helpful when researching estates and property
- British History Online
- The National Archives
- Your local record office e.g. Oxfordshire History Centre
- Your local record society e.g. Oxfordshire Record Society (publications include The manors and advowson of Great Rollright by Reginald W. Jeffrey, 1927)
Enquiries about specific properties
If you do have an enquiry for the archives it is usually most helpful if you can provide as much background information as possible about the estate or building you are researching. Please also include details of your connection to this property and the purpose of your reseach as this can help the Archivist to pinpoint the most helpful sources of information in the archive.
As the College’s estate records date from the 1200s to the present day, place names and even property/farm names usually change several times within the records and it is often not a quick task to trace the history of one house or piece of land. Please also consider that buildings (especially on farms) often became dilapidated and were often knocked down and rebuilt entirely. It is not always the case that the records will detail specific information about building work or dates of buildings. Many of the estates records deal with administrative and accounting issues, primarily dealt with by the Bursar and Land Agent of the College. If you are looking for information about tenants we can usually provide you with a name and date of habitation on a particular farm or in a particular property. Please do contact the Archivist for more information.