In ancient times, a track linked south-west Britain to the region of Lincoln and York, avoiding swamps and forests, along the ridge of high ground, to the Cotswolds. Four miles to the south of Sibford, near Hook Norton, it divides into two branch lines. One heads north-east, passing to the south of Sibford parishes, crossing Cherwell, near Banbury. The other headed northwards, over Oatley Hill, through Traitor’s Ford, along the Oxfordshire – Warwickshire county border and Sibford Gower’s eastern boundary, and along Edgehill scarp.
The two Sibfords and Burdrop hamlet stood on hill tops, close to springs, which fed into the River Stour and then into the River Severn. Early man had to defend themselves from wild animals, marauding tribes, which led to settlements on hill tops with barricades.
William the Conqueror, rewarded fellow knights with parcels of land, for their participation in the “Battle of Hasting” in 1066, where he seized the English crown.
According to the Domesday Book:
- Henry de Ferrieres, was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Ferris.
- William, the son of Corbician was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.
- Hugh de Grantmesnil was also granted 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.
Knights Templar Land & Property:
- In 1136 Queen Matilda, gave them the Manor in Cowley, upon which they built a church and preceptor.
- In 1142, they obtained the land of Hensington.
- In 1153, they obtained the Manor of Sibford Ferris, and the Chapel of Sibford Gower.
- In 1156, Simon, Earl of Northampton, gave them Merton.
- In 1185, Alan de Limsey, gave them Bradwell Manor and Church.
- Around 1225, William of Wheatfield granted them land in Sibford Gower, for they already held land in neighbouring Sibford Ferris.
- In 1225, the Manor of Littlemore and Horsepath, came to them on a lease.
- Around 1239-1240, the Manor of Sandford-on-Thames was given to them, upon which they established a preceptor.
- In 1279, they became patrons of the Priory of Littlemore.
With the end of the Knights Templar by order of the Pope, many Templars were seized and put on trial. Their lands, their wealth passed into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller.
With the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” in 1538, Sibford Gower Chapel, formerly a Knights Templar building, was stripped bare.
(Image) Sibford Gower area map: Banburyshire Maps
(Image) Domesday Book: National Archives