The Battle of Danes Moor in 1469 was only a few yards north-west from Thorpe in the adjoining parish of Edgcote. We can only speculate about the impact on the village. One account refers to the likelihood of the rebel army advancing from Thorpe Mandeville and the death of 5,000 men during the battle.
The earliest records of military influences on Thorpe are found in the Militia Lists. The militia was a county-based force of men created as a second line of defence after the regular army to defend the country from invasion or rebellion. Initially property owners were responsible for providing men who were required to serve and muster for training several times a year:
• The 1545-6 Musters book refers to Thorpe providing one archer and two bilmen.
• The 1559 Militia List refers to Mr. Gyfford being charged to “furnyshe a pykeman
on foote & the rest of the town an archer.”
• The 1583 Militia List required Mr. Kirton to supply a light horseman.
• The trained band schedule of 1613 named five men from the parish.
The lord of the manor during the Civil War was Thomas Kirton. His wife, Mary, was a first cousin of
Oliver Cromwell and the 18th century historian Bridges refers to the manor being garrisoned by Cromwell with earthworks being thrown up as protection against the Royalists. However, this undated reference may conflict
with the account leading up to the nearby Battle of Cropredy Bridge in June 1644. According to Richard Symonds, who served in the king’s troop, King Charles stayed overnight at the next village of Culworth, his troops being quartered at Thorpe’s manor house.
During the great siege of Banbury in 1646 by the parliamentarian Colonel Whalley there is an account which refers to the difficulties in creating the siege and “That they may be the better proceed in it, and have better accommodations in case any disturbance should be, they have begun and are going fast on to fortifie a house at Thorp Mandevil …”
The Militia List of 1762 details thirteen men from the parish advising that it is “a true list of all the men’s names in the parish of Thropmandivile between the ages of 18 and 45,” The list included “Edward Golby – grazier and ale seller”. Entries were crossed out for a deaf servant and three labourers with more than five children.
Edward Linnell, innkeeper at the Three Conies, was responsible for the 1781 list.
Memorials in the church record the loss of five lives from the First World War, 1914 -18 and one life from the Second World War, 1939-45.
Army personnel with the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards, Royal Amoured Corps were billeted throughout the parish during the 1939-45 war. One of the officers in Thorpe was Bernard Weatherill who later became Speaker of the House of Commons and subsequently a Life Peer. He was billeted with Ted Edmunds and his family at the Warren in 1941.
The 4th/7th Dragoon Guards was a tank regiment. Tanks were stationed at The Hill and concrete reinforcements to the lane were necessary and are still evident. A subsequent owner of The Hill thought that he had acquired a disused tennis court, only to find concrete hard-standing covered by moss and weeds…
In 1943 a Wellington bomber from the RAF’s wartime Operational Training Unit at Chipping Warden hit a tree on Thorpe’s northern boundary with Culworth. It crashed into a field in Culworth parish with the loss of five lives.
A parish invasion committee was formed in 1942 and defence plans were considered. These were revised in 1943 when the committee was informed that Thorpe would not be a defended place. Nevertheless it was still necessary to designate the Manor as the first-aid post, the Court as the emergency food store and a loose box at the Three Conies as a temporary mortuary. The church bells were to be rung in case of invasion…
(Main photograph: Memorial in Thorpe Mandeville churchyard, 2008)