Some years ago, when I first became interested in Tingewick Parish, I was told that there were the remains of some mediaeval fishponds on the land farmed by my late father-in-law, and that the dams could still be seen as banks some 6-8 feet high in some of his fields. Alas, I was horrified to learn that he and my husband had bulldozed them flat in the 1960's!
Since then I have been able to find traces of them on old aerial photographs (which I will post when I get hold of a slide scanner) but nothing remains on the ground, apart from a rather odd anomaly in the arrangement of fences round the corner of a field and occasional barely-discernible crop markings.
While visiting the archives of New College, Oxford, I did find one or two references to the ponds. It seems they were 'bought and settled upon the said college by their founder in the reign of Richard II' (i.e. between 1377 and 1399). In 1665 they were leased to Sir Richard Temple, the father of Lord Cobham (Stowe) who then yielded them up to the college around 1721/2. In previous times, when they were dry, Lord Cobham was allowed to use them for grazing. By 1723 they were 'out of repair, out of fish, and half drained of their water'. They were then leased to a James Woollams with 'leave to drain, fence and hedge ... to convert to meadow ... or plant'The ponds lay along the course of a stream to the south of the village, on the rough grazing land or common between the village and Tingewick Wood (which stretched much further eastward at that time, to the boundary with Gawcott parish). My recollection (though I have not at the moment located my notes) is that someone - perhaps this James Woollams - enclosed the land which had been ponds and used the lush grass exclusively for grazing for his own animals. The local people objected on the grounds that their animals needed to have access to the stream for drinking, as they had always done.
When I find my notes I'll update this further!
Page updated Sep 18 by SKF