The following is taken from Kirtlington Conservation Area Appraisal. It is an excellent document and can be viewed here;
“The name Kirtlington derives from the Saxon and translates as the ‘tun’ or settlement of Cyrtla’s people. The earliest known historical record of Kirtlington dates from AD 945. In 977 King Edward the Martyr held a witenagemot at Kirtlington attended by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. Kirtlington was a royal manor in the time of Edward the Confessor, and was presumably already a hundredal manor in the 10th century (that is it performed fiscal, judicial and military functions). The Domesday Book records Chertelintone as an important royal manor in 1086.
During the sixteenth century the manor played an important role in the life of the parish but did not dominate. Manorial organisation provided a framework within which the tenants and freeholders retained considerable autonomy. The society of the parish until the middle of the seventeenth century was dominated by husbandman and yeoman farmers occupying tenements between 30 to 80 acres. This predominance of locally-owned freehold land ensured that the community was not dominated by a strong residential lord. The period 1680 to 1750 was a period of crisis for small Midland farmers. The increase in central and local taxation and lower prices brought about the large-scale disappearance of peasant farmers occupying small freehold/tenements after 1680.
Kirtlington remained a royal manor until 1604 when the Crown sold it to two wealthy London merchants, Peter Vanlore and William Blake. In 1610 Vanlore and Blake resold Kirtlington for £3,000 to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, chief justice of Chester, who held his first court as lord of the manor in 1625, in which year he died.
His son Thomas bought Northbrook in 1641, a step which in effect united the two manors. Northbrook was demolished in the 1740s following the construction of Kirtlington Manor.
In 1682 Penelope, daughter of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, (grandson of the chief justice), was married to Robert Dashwood, son of a wealthy City financier. By the marriage settlement all the Chamberlayne estates in Kirtlington passed to Robert Dashwood, on whom a baronetcy was conferred in 1684 for his services to the King.
The economic pressure on the farming community provided a strong incentive for both owner-occupiers and non-resident minor gentry to sell land to Sir Robert Dashwood and his grandson. At the same time the Dashwoods reorganised the farms and by 1750 the community was polarized into large tenant farmers and the mass of craftsmen, labourers and small holders with the Dashwood family at the apex.
It would seem that having chosen to settle in Northbrook that it was natural that Robert Dashwood, as the cadet branch of a gentle family, should seek to consolidate and improve the family estate. The Dashwoods were generous in their settlements of land, but it is worthy of note that the cost of land purchase and house construction was minimal in comparison to the sums lavished on other causes such as parliamentary careers. The Dashwoods held Northbrook and Kirtlington until 1909.
In 1583 a wool draper called John Phillips bequeathed the rental income from a house in Woodstock to employ a schoolmaster in the village. His bequest did not provide for a schoolhouse, so a tenement called Church House was used. In 1759 the school had to close because the house in Woodstock had decayed to the point that it was unfit to be let. In 1766 the house was let on a repairing lease to George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough and between 1774 and 1778 the school reopened. The vicar and Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Baronet were the governors, and it seems that subsequently the Dashwoods as well as the Phillips endowment supported the school.
By 1808 two other schools had been founded in Kirtlington, and by 1814 one of them was a National School. In 1833 the three schools were effectively merged and in 1834 a purpose-built schoolhouse was opened. In 1947 it was reorganised as a junior and infants’ school and in 1951 it became a voluntary aided school. It is now Kirtlington Church of England School.
The names of three 17th-century inns are known. The ‘Dolphin’ is mentioned in 1644 as a the result of Matthew Weatherly, a royalist soldier, being shot and killed there by another soldier; the ‘George’ and the ‘Red Lion’ both occur in deeds of c. 1675–1700. The ‘Dashwood Arms’ has occupied its present site since 1815. A ‘Six Bells’, which no longer exists, also occurs in 1815 and again in 1884, when it had moved to a different site.
In 1562 the inhabitants of Kirtlington received a royal charter exempting them from payment of toll elsewhere than in the Duchy of Lancaster. It was said in 1723 that this privilege was the reason for the village’s annual feast, called the Lamb Ale. By 1679 it was an established tradition that would start the day after Trinity Sunday and last for two days.
In 1979 Kirtlington Morris was formed and revived the tradition in a modified form. Every year since, the Ale has been held at the end of May or in early June. Typically about 20 Morris sides attend the festival and dance over the weekend, prior to the Lamb Ale festival.
Kirtlington was one of the wealthiest parishes in the Ploughley Hundred in the 14th Century. Primarily an agricultural community, in 1676 the village is recorded as a market town with 265 persons over the age of 16 and at least 65 households. This was an increase of 80 to 90% over the population recorded in 1523. By 1811 the village had a population of 536, by 1871 it was 761, by 1901 it was 594 and in 1951 it was 636. In the last census of 2001 this stood at 872.”