It is evident that there has been a settlement at Rycote dating from at least the time of the Norman conquest in the eleventh century. In 1086 the land at Rycote was split between three individuals: Hugh de Bolebec, who held the greater part of Rycote; Geoffrey de Mandeville; and Alsige who held his land of the King. By the thirteenth century Rycote was formed of the manors of Rycote Magna and Rycote Parva. Rycote Park was created from the two manors in 1539.
The origin of the name ‘Rycote’ is not clear. Writing in the eighteenth century, Thomas Delafield put forward two suggestions, both Saxon in origin. His first theory was that Rycote may derive “its name from Rey Ripa and cot or cote” Saxon for a “mansion, dwelling or House situate at, or near, the shore or Bank of a River” (MS. Gough Oxon. 31, fols. 4v, 6r). Delafield’s theory is based on the premise that the Rycote manorial lands extended to the bank of the River Thame. His second suggestion was that the name came from “the light sandy disposition of the soill hereabouts, which fits it for bearing of Rye” (MS. Gough Oxon. 31, fol. 6v). Margaret Gelling, writing in 1953, concurred with Delafield’s latter suggestion and defined Rycote as a cottage at which Rye is grown (Gelling, Place-Names, pt. 1, p. 130).
The earliest documentary evidence of a settlement at Rycote is the 1086 Domesday survey of England commissioned by William the Conqueror. The Great Domesday Book contains three entries for Rycote. The first entry cites Hugh de Bolebec as holding four hides, with land for four ploughs and three villans (Williams,Domesday , vol. 1, p. 433). The second entry records Geoffrey de Mandeville in possession, the land being occupied by Saswalo, of one hide and one virgate of land, land for one plough in demesne, with one villan and five acres of meadow (Williams, Domesday, vol. 1, p. 439). The third entry reads that Alsige held of King William two hides, land for two ploughs, held in demesne with twenty-four acres of meadow (Williams, Domesday, vol. 1, p. 442).
It is not clear as to when these three different portions of Rycote may have been united. By the thirteenth century, however, it is apparent that only two Rycotes remained: the villages Rycote Magna and Rycote Parva (Allison, Deserted Villages, pp. 42-3). By 1521 Rycote Magna and Rycote Parva had been united under one owner, at which date they are recorded as having been sold by Sir Richard Fowler to Sir John Heron (BL Arundel MS 26, fol. 76b). The names Rycote Magna and Rycote Parva almost certainly ceased to be used after 1539 when Sir John Williams was granted licence to create a park of two hundred acres at Rycote (LP Henry VIII, vol. 14, pt. 2, p. 300).
There is archaeological evidence of a manor house at Rycote dating from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Archaeological excavations undertaken by Channel 4’s Time Team, broadcast in 2001, uncovered remains dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Subsequent survey work has also revealed foundation walls dating from the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries (Hirst, 'Thame, Rycote House', p. 71).
The earliest documentary evidence of a settlement at Rycote is the 1086 Domesday survey of England commissioned by William the Conqueror.
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