The Bosville Family and the Manor of Oxspring

The Manor of Oxspring was owned by the Bosville family. Early in the eleventh century the Lord of the Manor was John of Bosville, Knight of Oxspring and Ardsley in Yorkshire.

The name of Bosville came from a village in Normandy, which was famous for its fertile meadows, so excellent for cattle. The oxen of this district were so famous that the very name of the village tells you so - "Bos", Latin for bull, and "villa" a country dwelling. From this village in the 11th century, came the progenitor of the family, Sir Martin de Bosville, Knight Treasurer to the army of William the Conqueror, and grandfather of John of Bosville.  

The Bosville family owns estates and manor houses in parts of South and East Riding of Yorkshire.

The antiquity of Oxspring must have been great, being apparent from the "nodus" of ten shillings per year (ie. tithe or rent for land) fixed upon it by the "court". The Manor lands were more extensive at that time and included Thurlstone, Carlecotes, Hunshelf, parts of Bradfield Chapelry to Moor Hall, and other places including Roughbirchworth. The Townships of Oxspring and Hunshelf were not divided until 1686, when two overseers of the poor were appointed - Edmund Stocks for Hunshelf and Richard Wilby for Oxspring. In 1685 Jonas Broadhead had been appointed for both townships. The estates would have been reduced by the practice of giving away portions of them to younger sons, or divided upon death. One of these in time assumed the name of de Oxspring instead of his own family name, and this induced the Lord of the Manor to re-purchase the lands and family arms in case any but a Bosville should bear them. A bull's head in a bush appeared to be the arms or crest for Oxspring instead of the whole bull for the Bosvilles.

A court was held at Oxspring by Godfrey de Bosville in the 17th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1575. There are Court Rolls in the second Godfrey's name, and still later ones belonging to a third Godfrey in 1696, and even to the fourth Godfrey in 1741 for Oxspring with Midhope, and in 1747 for Oxspring.manors of Oxspring, Rough Birchworth and Hornthwaite and began to erect the building that was described at the beginning of this century as 'The Lodge' or 'Old Manor House'. It had certainly been completed by 1580, for in that year Godfrey Bosville's Will refers to the 'bed and bedsteads at my lodge at Oxspring and tables and forms there with all harness, crossbows, rack and artillery'. Apparently Bosville used it both as a hunting lodge and as the meeting place of the Oxspring manorial court.  As he normally resided at Gunthwaite, the lodge was let to tenant farmers. It became uninhabitable in the late nineteenth century and fell into ruin during the decade before the First World War. Old photographs show that thick stone walls masked a timber-framed building in the post and truss style, which was about 38 feet long, 25 feet wide and 2 to 3 storeys high. One room had oak panelling, but elsewhere the timbers were exposed and the gaps between them were filled with well-tempered clay. The staircase wound its way round a newel post with solid oak steps 9 inches deep and 12 inches wide.

The lord of the manor also owned a corn mil

The Manor of Oxspring appears to have left the Bosville family around 1886. Records of the Bosville pedigree - family papers, documents and Court papers remain at Thorpe Hall in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The symbol of this distinguished family in Oxspring is the Manor House, or Oxspring Lodge, today rapidly disappearing back into the high knoll overlooking the Don and today's village. It should be recognised for its importance and preserved for all interested to see.

Old maps going back 200 years or more do not mark a village on the site of present-day Oxspring. Instead, they mark the hamlet of High Oxspring alongside the top road from Thurgoland to Ingbirchworth and they show the position of the former Manor House or Lodge which until recently was marked on Ordnance Survey maps in the special italic letters that are used to indicate something ancient. The original Oxspring undoubtedly lay on the opposite side of the River Don from the present village. The earliest historical reference to Oxspring is in the Domesday Book of 1086. The meaning of the name is literally the 'ox spring'. The whereabouts of the original settlement is unknown but the most likely site is that of the former Manor House, which occupied a commanding position on an outcrop of shale above the river. For centuries Oxspring consisted of just a few scattered farms and mills. The Domesday Book also records Rough Birchworth. 'The enclosure amongst rough ground where birch trees grow’. Here was a separate manor and a small farming community with all the buildings clustered together. The strip pattern of the mediaeval open fields is remarkably fossilised by the long, narrow fields that stretch towards Castle Green and Springvale. The River Don was probably the boundary between these two Domesday settlements, which together formed the township of Oxspring within the old parish of Penistone. The word 'township' has fallen out of use, but in the Middle Ages it meant the basic unit of local government. The modern parish of Oxspring covers exactly the same area as the ancient township.

Little is known about the mediaeval lords who used Oxspring as their surname. In 1547 Godfrey Bosville of Gunthwaite Hall bought the

l on the River Don. Matthew de Oxspring had such a mill in the reign of Henry 111 (1216-72) but the structure was rebuilt more than once and no mediaeval features survive. However the goit can still be traced from the weir at Willow Bridge to the former dam. John Rollings who bought the mill in 1830 had two years previously built a steam mill alongside Barnsley Road. This was burnt down in 1856 and replaced by a new structure, which has now gone. Two other water mills stood on the township boundaries. One of these, Dawson's Mill may have been the corn mill of the manor of Rough Birchworth, though by 1838 it had been converted into a woollen mill. The other, Kirkwood Mill, was once the only building between Penistone Church and Oxspring. It obtained its water from Castle Dam and Kirkwood Beck and for a time was a woollen mill too. The River Don was also the source of power for another mill in the Middle Ages, the lord's fulling mill or walk mill, where cloth was fulled after it had been woven. In 1306 Robert de Oxspring had granted part of his mill to Henry de Rockley, and further references appear in the records from the sixteenth century onwards. The site has long been occupied by Winterbottom's Wire Works, but the wooded hillside to the north of the river is still known as Walk Mill Bank.

In 1743 John Wood of Oxspring was one of three local fullers who agreed not to fill the cloth of any clothier who did not use the new cloth market at Penistone, and the township had at least five clothiers in 1806. The woollen trade disappeared from Oxspring later in the century.

The present farmsteads are frequently sited at places where men had farmed in the Middle Ages, but the parish no longer possesses timber-framed houses or cruck­-framed barns such as can be found in neighbouring localities.

'The Waggon and Horses' was so called by 1828 and Jockey House was formerly a pub known on the 1826 enclosure award as the 'Horse and Jockey'. It was conveniently sited at the junction of the Huddersfield-Sheffield road and an old packhorse track that came over the hills from Bradfield and Bolsterstone, past Underbank and Dyson Cote, and along the back Lane at Rough Birchworth to Willow Bridge and so on to Silkstone, Cawthorne, Wakefield and Leeds. This route was improved with several guide stones and a new bridge at Ewden in 1734, and this is the likely date of the delightfully picturesque Willow Bridge.

In 1818 a private act of parliament authorised the enclosure of the 260 or so acres of common land within the township. Until the early nineteenth century it had been possible to walk all the way from Oxspring to Thurlstone over common moorland. The work of the enclosure commissioners is still evident in the regular shaped fields and straight roads that characterise the southern part of the parish. A curious feature resulting from the enclosure award is the narrow tongue of land that protrudes from Oxspring parish towards Throstle Nest. No doubt this was designed to allow access to the Hartcliff to Green Moor Road which was part of an important mediaeval highway along which salt was brought from Cheshire to Rotherham. The salters are commemorated in such names as Saltersbrook (the county boundary) and Salter Hill Farm and Plantation. Throstle Nest was a prominent boundary point, known as Bleak Royd in old perambulations, where the township of Oxspring met those of Hunshelf and Langsett. The exact line of the boundary between Oxspring and Hunshelf had been disputed until agreement was reached in 1756. The agreed line went from the Oxspring Pinfold along Dawson Mill Brook to three new boundary stones, one of which stands prominently in the field near Tanyard Farm to the south of Rough Birchworth, and so on to a prehistoric earthwork of Iron Age origin. The earthwork has been ploughed flat but its outline is marked clearly on nineteenth-century Ordnance Survey maps.


This article was written by the late Howard Thorpe an Oxspring resident a keen walker and one of life’s gentlemen.